Tina S playing the Moonlight Sonata (3rd Movement) by Ludwig van Beethoven

On this Day:

In 1972, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt finish their exploration of the moon aboard Apollo 17 and leave for Earth. Eugene Cernan would be, and still is, the last man to walk on the moon.

Eugene Andrew Cernan (March 14, 1934 – January 16, 2017) was an American astronaut, naval aviator, electrical engineer, aeronautical engineer, and fighter pilot. During the Apollo 17 mission, Cernan became the eleventh man to walk on the Moon. As he re-entered the Apollo Lunar Module after Harrison Schmitt on their third and final lunar excursion, he is the last man to walk on the Moon as of 2021.

Before becoming an astronaut, Cernan graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University and joined the U.S. Navy. After flight training, he received his naval aviator wings and served as a fighter pilot. In 1963 he received a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Achieving the rank of captain, he retired from the Navy in 1976.

Cernan traveled into space three times and to the Moon twice: as pilot of Gemini 9A in June 1966, as lunar module pilot of Apollo 10 in May 1969, and as commander of Apollo 17 in December 1972, the final Apollo lunar landing. Cernan was also a backup crew member of the Gemini 12, Apollo 7 and Apollo 14 space missions.

Cernan was commissioned a U.S. Navy Ensign through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at Purdue, and was initially stationed on the USS Saipan. Cernan changed to active duty and attended flying training at Whiting Field, Barron Field, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, and Naval Air Station Memphis. Following flight training on the T-28 Trojan, T-33 Shooting Star, and F9F Panther, Cernan became a Naval Aviator, flying FJ-4 Fury and A-4 Skyhawk jets in Attack Squadrons 126 and 113.  Upon completion of his assignment in Miramar, California, he finished his education in 1963 at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School with a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering.

During his naval career, Cernan logged more than 5,000 hours of flying time, including 4,800 hours in jet aircraft. Cernan also made at least 200 successful landings on aircraft carriers.

In October 1963, NASA selected Cernan as one of the third group of astronauts to participate in the Gemini and Apollo space programs.

Apollo 10

Cernan was selected for the lunar module pilot position on the backup crew for Apollo 7—although that flight carried no lunar module. Standard crew rotation put him in place as the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 10—the final dress rehearsal mission for the first Apollo lunar landing—on May 18–26, 1969.

During the Apollo 10 mission, Cernan and his commander, Tom Stafford, piloted the Lunar Module Snoopy in lunar orbit to within 8.5 nautical miles (15.7 km) of the lunar surface, and successfully executed every phase of a lunar landing up to final powered descent. This provided NASA planners with critical knowledge of technical systems and lunar gravitational conditions to enable Apollo 11 to land on the Moon two months later. Apollo 10 holds the record for the highest speed attained by any crewed vehicle at 39,897 km/h (24,791 mph) during its return from the Moon on May 26, 1969.

Apollo 17

Cernan turned down the opportunity to walk on the Moon as Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 16, preferring to risk missing a flight for the opportunity to command his own mission. Cernan moved back into the Apollo rotation as commander of the backup crew of Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Joe Engle for Apollo 14, putting him in position through normal crew rotation to command his own crew on Apollo 17. Escalating budget cutbacks for NASA, however, brought the number of future lunar missions into question. After the cancellation of Apollo 15 in its original H class profile and Apollo 19 in September 1970, pressure from the scientific community to shift Harrison Schmitt, the sole professional geologist in the active Apollo roster of astronauts, to the crew of Apollo 17, the final scheduled Apollo mission, mounted. In August 1971, NASA named Schmitt as the lunar module pilot for Apollo 17, which meant the original LM pilot Joe Engle never had the opportunity to walk on the Moon. Cernan fought to keep his crew together; given the choice of flying with Schmitt as LMP or seeing his entire crew removed from Apollo 17, Cernan chose to fly with Schmitt. Cernan eventually came to have a positive evaluation of Schmitt’s abilities; he concluded that Schmitt was an outstanding LM pilot while Engle—notwithstanding his outstanding record as an aircraft test pilot—was merely an adequate one.

Cernan’s role as commander of Apollo 17 closed out the Apollo program’s lunar exploration mission with a number of record-setting achievements. During the three days of Apollo 17’s surface activity (Dec. 11–14, 1972), Cernan and Schmitt performed three EVAs for a total of about 22 hours of exploration of the Taurus–Littrow valley. Their first EVA alone was more than three times the length astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent outside the LM on Apollo 11. During this time Cernan and Schmitt covered more than 35 km (22 mi) using the Lunar Roving Vehicle and spent a great deal of time collecting geologic samples (including a record 34 kilograms (75 lb) of samples, the most of any Apollo mission) that would shed light on the Moon’s early history. Cernan piloted the rover on its final sortie, recording a maximum speed of 11.2 mph (18.0 km/h), giving him the unofficial lunar land speed record.

As Cernan prepared to climb the ladder for the final time, he spoke these words, currently the last spoken by a human being standing on the lunar surface:

Bob, this is Gene, and I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record: that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17. — Cernan

Cernan’s status as the last person to walk on the Moon means Purdue University is the alma mater of both the first person to walk on the Moon—Neil Armstrong—and the most recent. Cernan is one of only three astronauts to travel to the Moon on two occasions; the others being Jim Lovell and John Young. He is also one of only twelve people to have walked on the Moon (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

What would have happened if astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt remained on the moon too long? They would have become lunatics…

Second, a Song:

Ludwig van Beethoven (baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. Beethoven remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music; his works rank amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire and span the transition from the Classical period to the Romantic era in classical music. His career has conventionally been divided into early, middle, and late periods. The “early” period, during which he forged his craft, is typically considered to have lasted until 1802. From 1802 to around 1812, his “middle” period showed an individual development from the “classical” styles of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and is sometimes characterized as “heroic”. During this time, he began to suffer increasingly from deafness. In his “late” period from 1812 to his death in 1827, he extended his innovations in musical form and expression.

Born in Bonn, Beethoven’s musical talent was obvious at an early age, and he was initially harshly and intensively taught by his father Johann van Beethoven. Beethoven was later taught by the composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe, under whose tutelage he published his first work, a set of keyboard variations, in 1783. He found relief from a dysfunctional home life with the family of Helene von Breuning, whose children he loved, befriended, and taught piano. At age 21, he moved to Vienna, which subsequently became his base, and studied composition with Haydn. Beethoven then gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist, and he was soon patronized by Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky for compositions, which resulted in his three Opus 1 piano trios (the earliest works to which he accorded an opus number) in 1795.

His first major orchestral work, the First Symphony, premiered in 1800, and his first set of string quartets was published in 1801. Despite his hearing deteriorating during this period, he continued to conduct, premiering his Third and Fifth Symphonies in 1804 and 1808, respectively. His Violin Concerto appeared in 1806. His last piano concerto (No. 5, Op. 73, known as the ‘Emperor’), dedicated to his frequent patron Archduke Rudolf of Austria, was premiered in 1811, without Beethoven as soloist. He was almost completely deaf by 1814, and he then gave up performing and appearing in public. He described his problems with health and his unfulfilled personal life in two letters, his “Heiligenstadt Testament” (1802) to his brothers and his unsent love letter to an unknown “Immortal Beloved” (1812).

After 1810, increasingly less socially involved, Beethoven composed many of his most admired works, including later symphonies, mature chamber music and the late piano sonatas. His only opera, Fidelio, first performed in 1805, was revised to its final version in 1814. He composed Missa solemnis between 1819 and 1823 and his final Symphony, No. 9, one of the first examples of a choral symphony, between 1822 and 1824. Written in his last years, his late string quartets, including the Grosse Fuge, of 1825–1826 are among his final achievements. After some months of bedridden illness, he died in 1827. Beethoven’s works remain mainstays of the classical music repertoire.

The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, marked Quasi una fantasia, Op. 27, No. 2, is a piano sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven. It was completed in 1801 and dedicated in 1802 to his pupil Countess Giulietta Guicciardi. The popular name Moonlight Sonata goes back to a critic’s remark after Beethoven’s death.

The piece is one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions for the piano, and it was a popular favorite even in his own day. Beethoven wrote the Moonlight Sonata in his early thirties, after he had finished with some commissioned work; there is no evidence that he was commissioned to write this sonata.

Tina Setkic (born 7 April 1999) is a French guitarist specialising in covering technically difficult solos of heavy metal from Van Halen, Gary Moore, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, and Pink Floyd, and metalised classical music including pieces from Beethoven, Paganini, and Vivaldi, mainly employing a guitar technique known as shredding. From the age of thirteen, her popularity has increased, especially through YouTube and social media, attracting the attention of notable musicians and guitar manufacturers. Originally from the Paris region, she received classical guitar lessons at the age of 6, and later studied under jazz-rock guitarist Renaud Louis-Servais. At the age of 9, she covered the classic version of “Hotel California” by the Eagles and at 13 she began to specialise in electric rock.

Setkic started a YouTube channel in 2007 (at age 8) and in 2013 uploaded a video of her cover of Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo Eruption. Within a week, this video was seen four million times and in the following two years had been watched eleven million times.

In the same year, she took up Antonio Vivaldi’s third movement, “Presto”, from the Concerto No. 2 in G minor, op. 8, RV 315, better known as the Summer of Four Seasons (the piece was adapted for the electric guitar by Patrick Rondat in 1996). In March 2015, she played Through the Fire and Flames, by the British band DragonForce.

By early 2016, her videos had received a total of about sixty million visits. and in 2017 she rated #217 (Top 36%) on the list of French YouTubers based on the number of subscribers and rated #265 (Top 44%) on the list of French YouTubers based on the number of YouTube hits. Setkic has not uploaded any videos since late 2016 but by 2020 she had amassed a total of 162 million views.

Setkic is a featured artist of the French guitar manufacturer Vigier Guitars, and her playing has been noticed by bassist Wolfgang Van Halen.

According to Setkic, her interest in the guitar stems from her passion for the work of female guitarists Ana Vidović and Orianthi.

Since mid-2016, no evidence suggests that she has performed as an independent artist or as a session musician or been in any way musically active in public (per Wikipedia).

I guarantee that you have never heard Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played like this before! Here is the Moonlight Sonata (3rd Movement) by Ludwig van Beethoven, arranged for electric guitar by Dr. Viossy, played by Tina S. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Perhaps the two greatest moments of my life were standing on the moon and being outside of the room when my granddaughter was born! We tend not to remember the worst.” – Gene Cernan

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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