The Horn

Contact Me

Receive Email Updates

Do We Really Need Beethoven Awareness Month ?

   New York's WQXR , America's foremost classical music station , has officially declared November to be
"Beethoven Awareness Month ".  On Facebook recently, a composer I'm a friend with there expressed his
disapproval , because according to him , Beethoven is overexposed , great as he is . 

   Possibly . I can understand his reaction . Beethoven's music has been popular wherever classical music is performed for 200 years or so .  He is a world cultural icon , and for a good reason , because he wrote some of the greatest music ever written , and his stirring and impassioned music still speaks to us today nearly 200 years after his death in 1827 .

   Orchestras all over Europe, America and elsewhere play his immortal symphonies , and concertos every season ; great pianists have  tackled his sonatas and piano concertos for generations , and his lone violin concerto is part of the core repertoire of all  great violinists . His 16 string quartets are one of the most important parts of the repertoire of all string quartets , and  his lone opera Fidelio has been in the repertoire of
all the world's great opera companies from the beginning . 

  Virtually all the greatest conductors have recording his nine great symphonies , some multiple times .
The list is a who's who of conductors ,living and dead : Furtwanlger , Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Stokowski ,
Karajan , Willem Mengelberg , Felix Weingartner , Bernstein , Eugen Jochum , Otto Klemperer, Carlos and Erich Kleiber,Solti,
Fritz Reiner , George Szell , and among the living , Daniel Barenboim , Bernard Haitink , Riccardo Muti,
Claudio Abbado, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Sir Colin Davis , Lorin Maazel and others .
Herbert von Karajan recorded all nine no fewer than four times over four decades !  Many of these recordings are still available .

   Yes, you might say that Beethoven's music is somewhat over-exposed .  There are so many other fine but not not nearly as famous composers who deserve to be heard .
For example , Albert Roussel, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Franz Schmidt,  Carl Nielsen , Hans Pfitzner,
Franz Schreker , Arnold Bax, Wilhelm Stenhammar , Frank Martin , Nikolai Myaskovsky,
Sergei Taneyev, Karl Szymanowski , Alberic Magnard , Franz Berwald , Bohuslav Martinu ,
Nikolai Medtner, to name only a handful .

   But when it comes to people who are  not fans of classical music , Beethoven awareness month is not a bad idea at all !   Countless people can recognize the famous melody of the "Ode  To Joy " from the 9th symphony , and can recognize the opening Da - da-da daaah  from the 5th symphony ,
but unfortunately , they've never heard the complete works   live or recorded , not to mention the other seven Beethoven symphonies and his numerous other works , which is a pity . They don't know what they're missing .

   You may remember the episode on the Simpsons when the famous architect  Frank Gehry ,who added his voice for the show ,designed a concert hall for Springfield .  When the Springfield symphony orchestra started to play
the 5th at the gala opening of the hall , most of the audience left immediately after the opening notes, because they thought there was nothing worth hearing after those notes !   They had them as their
ring tones .  And after that , the concert hall was unable to sell enough concerts in Springfield to stay alive , so the odious Mr. Burns bought it and turned it into a private for profit prison !

   This episode may be a rather exaggerated description of American Philistinism , but it makes a good point .  If only more people could get familiar with the music of Beethoven , not to mention  other greats such as Mozart , Chopin , Schumann , Tchaikovsky , Brahms ,Bach and others .  Dream on .
Posted: Nov 17 2011, 06:30 PM by the horn | with no comments
Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web