September 14, 2023

#ThrowbackThursday –14 September

To quote Princess Grace of Monaco, who tragically passed away on this day 41 years ago, “Everything has to be earned, through work, persistence and honesty.”

As you ponder these depthful words, consider these three events that went down in history on 14 September:

1741 – Hallelujah, It’s Done!

Have you ever spent day after day, night after night working on a passion project that you know in your heart of hearts is going to be amazing? Then you’ll know just how George Frideric Handel felt when he finally finished one of his most famous musical compositions.

A renowned German composer with five oratorios already holding him in good stead, Handel embarked on his sixth with fervour in 1741: “Messiah” revolves the life and death of Jesus Christ, starting from his humble birth, all the way to his ascension into heaven. Based on lyrics provided by English landowner Charles Jennans, it took 23 days and nights of non-stop work for Handel to pen the composition, consuming his mornings and evenings until finally, on 14 September, it was completed.

“Messiah” made its debut a few months later in Dublin, Ireland (Handel’s music was popular among the British public, but his previous offerings received a lukewarm response, so he decided to test the waters in Dublin first). The two-hour, 20-minute oratorio was a resounding success, with audiences gathering in their numbers to witness a masterpiece in the making.

From Dublin to London, audiences were amazed by the vocal talents of contralto Susannah Cibber, soprano Christina Avoglio and tenor John Beard, all accompanied by the heartfelt, almost heavenly orchestration that Handel had painstakingly arranged. The performance would be crowned by the epic final bars of “Hallelujah”, which has become an iconic piece of music by itself.

“Messiah” has since become a fixture of Christmas music across the world – so, one can definitely say that Handel’s 23-day writing frenzy paid off big time!

1982 – Remembering Princess Grace

Fifteen years before Princess Diana would pass away following a car crash, Princess Grace of Monaco also lost her life in similar circumstances.

Formerly known as Grace Kelly, the princess was once one of Hollywood’s leading actresses and glamour icons, earning herself plaudits from fans and critics alike. At the height of her popularity, the 26-year-old Pennsylvanian beauty retired from the silver screen in order to marry Prince Rainier III, a member of the royal House of Grimaldi, in 1956. She settled in Monaco, had three children and dedicated her life to philanthropy.

Alas, her life would come to an untimely end: on 13 September 1982, while driving with her youngest daughter Stephanie from the family’s farm at Roc Agel in France to their palace in Monaco (which was about 40 minutes away), Grace suffered a stroke and lost control of the Rover as they drove along a steep, winding road known as “Devil’s Curve”. At once, the Rover plunged down the cliffside and crashed. Stephanie was injured yet survived, but her mother was in an extremely critical condition, having received extensive injuries to her brain and thorax.

Grace was taken to Monaco Hospital in La Colle, where she was placed on life support. Unfortunately, she was officially declared brain-dead as a result of a second stroke. As such, Prince Rainier made the decision to take her off life support on 14 September. She was 52-years-old.

Four days later, Grace was laid to rest in the Grimaldi family vault in Monaco; Rainier, who never remarried and died in 2005, was buried alongside her.

1985 – A Golden Debut

“Thank you for being a friend, travelled down a road and back again …”

You know how the rest of the lyrics go – it’s the theme song to “The Golden Girls”, the hilarious and innovative sitcom that made its debut on this day 38 years ago!

Created by Susan Harris and debuting one Saturday on the American network NBC, “The Golden Girls” centred around the lives, romances and antics of four roommates – three middle-aged, one elderly – living out their golden years in Miami, Florida: the sarcastic Dorothy (played by Bea Arthur), the sweet-natured Rose (played by Betty White), the sultry Southern belle Blanche (played by Rue McClanahan), and Dorothy’s spicy, Sicilian mother Sophia (played by Estelle Getty).

The first episode saw Blanche announcing that she was getting married, although the groom gets arrested for bigamy before the ceremony could commence, and Sophia temporarily (later permanently) moving into the girls’ residence after her retirement home burned down.

The show was a huge success with audiences, who adored the ladies’ splendid acting, found pleasure in the clever humour, and appreciated the in-depth writing that accompanied each episode as “the girls” dealt with a myriad of diverse issues and topics, some of which were practically taboo at the time: same-sex marriages, HIV/AIDS, death, the complications of love, sex and dating, and ageism among others.

“The Golden Girls” ran for seven seasons, ending its run in 1992. It picked up many awards along the way, including Emmy awards for Arthur, White, McClanahan and Getty. To this day, the show remains a popular watch among youngsters and adults alike, with many still finding relevancy and delight from it.

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