You might think that there can’t be anything that links Schubert to almond blossom and Bloody Sunday – the day 13 Irish demonstrators were shot dead in Derry. But there is. The thread that holds them all together is today’s date – 31 January. Another link is that you can discover more about all three on Europeana. Read on to find out more…
Let’s start with the earliest in history. Franz Schubert was born on 31 January 1797. In a short lifespan of less than 32 years, Schubert was a prolific composer, writing some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous ‘Unfinished Symphony’), liturgical music, operas, some incidental music and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. Appreciation of Schubert’s music during his lifetime was limited, but interest in his work increased significantly in the decades following his death. Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, among others, discovered and championed his works in the 19th century. Today, Schubert is seen as one of the leading exponents of the early Romantic era in music and he remains one of the most frequently performed composers. Explore Europeana’s Schubert collection: listen to recordings; watch videos; browse sheet music.
Moving on in time, we reach 31 January 1890. On this date, Vincent Van Gogh’s younger brother, Theo, wrote to Vincent that his wife Jo had given birth to a son, whom they planned to name Vincent Willem. Shortly after receiving this news, Vincent painted this picture of blooming almond branches – one of the first signs of spring – for his new nephew. Theo and Jo received the canvas in early May, and gave it a place of honour in their apartment, above the piano. (Editor: I fell in love with the painting as soon as I saw it – currently thinking about getting a print to display above my own piano!).
And finally, we move forward to 31 January 1972 and news not of birth but of tragic deaths. The Irish Independent led with the front page headline ‘Derry’s Bloody Sunday’ referring to an incident that occurred the previous day, on 30 January 1972, when 26 unarmed civil-rights protesters and bystanders were shot by soldiers of the British Army. Thirteen males, seven of whom were teenagers, died immediately or soon after. The death of another man four-and-a-half months later was attributed to the injuries he received on that day. A priest interviewed by The Irish Independent talks of trapped boys being shot at point-blank range. Following a 12-year enquiry (The Saville Enquiry) that ended in 2010, Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom.
Take a look at what else in Europeana is related to today’s date here.