Almanac – December 19

1111 – Al-Ghazali died. Abū Hāmed Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazālī , known as Al-Ghazali or Algazel to the Western medieval world, was a Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic of Persian descent.

Al-Ghazali has sometimes been referred to by historians as the single most influential Muslim after the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Others have cited his movement from science to faith as a detriment to Islamic scientific progress.

Besides his work that successfully changed the course of Islamic philosophy—the early Islamic Neoplatonism developed on the grounds of Hellenistic philosophy, for example, was so successfully refuted by al-Ghazali that it never recovered—he also brought the orthodox Islam of his time in close contact with Sufism.

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1843 – Charles Dickens‘  A Christmas Carol first went on sale. It remains popular, has never been out of print,  and has been adapted to film, stage, opera, and other media multiple times.

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1848 – Emily Brontë died. English novelist and poet, best remembered for her solitary novel, Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature. She died of tuberculosis, aged 30.

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1915 – Édith Piaf born. French singer who became widely regarded as France’s national popular singer, as well as being one of France’s greatest international stars. Her singing reflected her life, with her specialty being ballads. Among her songs are “La Vie en rose” (1946), “Non, je ne regrette rien” (1960), “Hymne à l’amour” (1949), “Milord” (1959), “La Foule” (1957), “l’Accordéoniste” (1955), and “Padam… Padam…” (1951).

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1918 – Professor Longhair born. AKA  Henry Roeland Byrd, New Orleans blues singer and pianist, noteworthy for having been active in two distinct periods, both in the heyday of early rhythm and blues, and in the resurgence of interest in traditional jazz after the founding of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The journalist Tony Russell, in his book The Blues – From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, stated “The vivacious rhumba-rhythmed piano blues and choked singing typical of Fess were too weird to sell millions of records; he had to be content with siring musical offspring who were simple enough to manage that, like Fats Domino or Huey “Piano” Smith. But he is also acknowledged as a father figure by subtler players like Allen Toussaint and Dr. John.”

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1989 – Stella Gibbons died aged 87.  English novelist, journalist, poet, and short-story writer, best remembered for her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm, the sucess of which tended to overshadow her subsequent work, and of which she later commented  “Cold Comfort Farm is a member of my family; he is like some unignorable old uncle, to whom you have to be grateful because he makes you a handsome allowance, but who is often an embarrassment and a bore.”

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2000 – Roebuck “Pops” Staples died. American gospel and R&B musician. A  pivotal figure in gospel in the 1960s and 70s,  he was an accomplished songwriter, guitarist and singer. He was the patriarch and member of singing group The Staple Singers, which included his son Pervis and daughters Mavis, Yvonne, and Cleotha.

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