Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
September 23 is the 266th day of the year (267th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 99 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1964, the Paris Opera, Palais Garnier, unveils a stunning new ceiling painted as a gift by Belorussian-born artist Marc Chagall, who spent much of his life in France. The ceiling was typical of Chagall’s masterpieces–childlike in its apparent simplicity yet luminous with color and evocative of the world of dreams and the subconscious. . . .
. . . . Andre Malraux, the French minister of culture, commissioned him to design a new ceiling for the Paris Opera after seeing Chagall’s work in Daphnis et Chloe. Working with a surface of 560 square meters, Chagall divided the ceiling into color zones that he filled with landscapes and figures representing the luminaries of opera and ballet. The ceiling was unveiled on September 23, 1964, during a performance of the same Daphnis et Chloe. As usual, a few detractors condemned Chagall’s work as overly primitive, but this criticism was drowned out in the general acclaim for the work. In 1966, as a gift to the city that had sheltered him during World War II, he painted two vast murals for New York’s Metropolitan Opera House (1966).
In 1977, France honored Chagall with a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. He continued to work vigorously until his death in 1985 at the age of 97.
It was first published as a serialization in “Le Gaulois” from September 23, 1909 to January 8, 1910. Initially, the story sold very poorly upon publication in book form and was even out of print several times during the twentieth century, despite the success of its various film and stage adaptations. The most notable of these were the 1925 film depiction and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical. The Phantom of the Opera musical is now the longest running Broadway show in history, and one of the most lucrative entertainment enterprises of all time.
1122 – Concordat of Worms.
1409 – Battle of Kherlen, the second significant victory over Ming China by the Mongols since 1368.
1459 – Battle of Blore Heath, the first major battle of the English Wars of the Roses, is fought at Blore Heath in Staffordshire.
1641 – The Merchant Royal, carrying a treasure worth over a billion USD, is lost at sea off Land’s End.
1642 – First commencement exercises occur at Harvard College.
1779 – American Revolution: a squadron commanded by John Paul Jones on board the USS Bonhomme Richard wins the Battle of Flamborough Head, off the coast of England, against two British warships.
1780 – American Revolution: British Major John Andre is arrested as a spy by American soldiers exposing Benedict Arnold’s change of sides.
1803 – Second Anglo-Maratha War: Battle of Assaye between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire in India.
1806 – Lewis and Clark return to St. Louis after exploring the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
1821 – Tripolitsa, Greece, falls and 30,000 Turks are massacred.
1845 – The Knickerbockers Baseball Club, the first baseball team to play under the modern rules, is founded in New York.
1846 – Neptune is discovered by French astronomer Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier and British astronomer John Couch Adams; the discovery is verified by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle.
1857 – The Russian warship Lefort capsized and sank during a storm in the Gulf of Finland, killing all 826 aboard.
1868 – Grito de Lares (“Lares Revolt”) occurs in Puerto Rico against Spanish rule
1889 – Nintendo Koppai (Later Nintendo Company, Limited) is founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce and market the playing card game Hanafuda.
1905 – Norway and Sweden sign the “Karlstad treaty”, peacefully dissolving the Union between the two countries.
1908 – University of Alberta in Alberta, Canada, is founded.
1909 – The Phantom of the Opera (original title: Le Fantôme de l’Opéra), a novel by French writer Gaston Leroux, was first published as a serialization in Le Gaulois.
1922 – In Washington D. C., Charles Evans Hughes signs the Hughes-Peynado agreement, that ends the occupation of Dominican Republic by the United States.
1922 – Gdynia Seaport Construction Act is passed by the Polish parliament.
1932 – The Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd is renamed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
1938 – Mobilization of the Czechoslovak army in response to the Munich Crisis.
1941 – World War II: The first gas chamber experiments are conducted at Auschwitz.
1942 – World War II: First day of the September Matanikau action on Guadalcanal as United States Marine Corps forces attack Imperial Japanese Army units along the Matanikau River.
1943 – World War II: The so-called Salò Republic is born.
1952 – Richard Nixon makes his “Checkers speech”.
1959 – Iowa farmer Roswell Garst hosts Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.
1959 – The MS Princess of Tasmania, Australia’s first passenger roll-on/roll-off diesel ferry, makes her maiden voyage across Bass Strait.
1962 – The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City opens with the completion of the first building, the Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) home of the New York Philharmonic.
1969 – The Chicago Eight trial opens in Chicago.
1972 – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos announces over television and radio the implementation of martial law.
1973 – Juan Peron returns to power in Argentina.
1983 – Saint Kitts and Nevis joins the United Nations.
1983 – Gulf Air Flight 771 is bombed, killing all 117 people on board.
1986 – Jim Deshaies of the Houston Astros sets the major-league record by striking out the first eight batters of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
1988 – Jose Canseco of the Oakland Athletics becomes the first member of the 40-40 club.
1992 – A large Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb destroys the forensic laboratories in Belfast.
1999 – NASA announces that it has lost contact with the Mars Climate Orbiter.
1999 – Qantas Flight 1 overruns the runway in Bangkok during a storm. While some passengers only receive minor injuries, it is still the worst crash in Qantas’s history since 1960.
2002 – The first public version of the web browser Mozilla Firefox (“Phoenix 0.1”) is released.
2004 – Hurricane Jeanne: At least 1,070 in Haiti are reported killed by floods.
2008 – Kauhajoki school shooting: Matti Saari kills 10 people before committing suicide.