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Please Don't Roll Over , Beethoven !

  New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn has an interesting review in the paper today of a new book
by Michael Broyles , professor of music at one of Florida's leading universities on Beethoven , specifically
this towering composer's surprisingly prominent place in American popular culture , as well as a history
how his music came to be established in the repertoire of America's orchestras .

  I haven't read the book yet , but very much want to as soon as possible . There's a certain paradox about
the fame of Beethoven in America ;  people have flocked to see  such movies as  "Immortal Beloved ",
which  deals with  Beethoven's mysterious and possibly non-existent love life .  The composer is quite prominent in popular culture here , and  every one is familiar with  the  melody of  the Ode To Joy from the ninth symphony , the da da da daah opening of the fifth symphony , and the piano piece "Fur Elise " which is actually very minor Beethoven..

   Every one knows Schroeder's  worship of Beethoven's music from "Peanuts " , and countless people have Beethoven mugs and  ring tones with  Beethoven  themes .  But  how many Americans really know Beethoven's music , other than confirmed classical music fans ,professional musicians, critics and musicologists ? 

   In his lifetime , which spanned from 1770 to 1827 , Beethoven wrote nine symphonies , five piano concertos, one for violin , one for violin, cello and piano , 32 piano sonatas , 10 for violin and piano , five for cello and piano ,  sixteen string quartets ,  one opera called Fidelio ,  two masses ,  miscellaneous piano works ,  songs , various concert overtures for orchestra , choral works  and much more .

   That's lot of music .  You can get a huge set of his complete works on CD from Brilliant records ,
drawn from recordings by a wide variety of distinguished musicians  for  an amazingly low price if you'd really like to get to know everything he wrote , and  it will take you  possibly weeks  to hear the entire set depending on how many CDs you hear in one day . 

   But even in a whole lifetime of listening , you'll never get to the bottom of  Beethoven's music and learn all its secrets .  Each time you hear one of his great works ( he wrote his share of potboilers just  for  money, too) , you can gain new insights into it .  But you can also get jaded if you keep listening to the same  works over and over again, no matter how great , and there's so much wonderful classical music out there beyond  Beethoven .

   So if you have only a superficial knowledge of Beethoven's music , what are you waiting for  ?


Posted: Dec 20 2011, 06:40 PM by the horn | with no comments
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