Everything BEETHOVEN on Classical TV
A rich source of all things Ludwig van Beethoven: his life and premier Beethoven productions - all online at Classical TV...
WATCH PERFORMANCES OF BEETHOVEN COMPOSITIONS:
Performed by Pinchas Zukerman And Marc Neikrug, live at the St. Francis Auditorium in Santa Fe
Wig stealing, sword fighting, egg throwing and drunkenness in front of presidents ... just a few examples of the astonishing behavior that some of our favorite composers indulged in.
Performed by the Boston Symphony in a live recording from the Alte Oper Frankfurt, featuing the Japanese maestro Seiji Ozawa conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Seven Things You May Not Have Known About Beethoven:
Running the same child prodigy/cash cow track as Mozart's father, Johann van Beethoven lied on posters advertising his son's first public show in 1778 that Beethoven was six, when he was in fact seven.
In the 1790s, Beethoven began to suffer from a form of tinnitus - a ringing in his ears; he eventually became deaf. The exact cause of Beethoven's hearing loss is unknown, though researchers offer possible causes: lead poisoning, syphilis or (strange, if true) immersing his head in cold water to stay awake.
Beethoven eventually used conversation books for written communications with his friends. In a misguided attempt to romanticize his idol, budding biographer Anton Schindler destroyed over half of the books' contents and made his own additions, diminishing a precious record of Beethoven's conversations.
During a visit to the Czech resort community Teplitz, Beethoven wrote a series of now infamous letters for "The Immortal Beloved"; theories of the recipient's identity continue to circulate, but Beethoven's "beloved" will most likely remain anonymous.
Beethoven could be fiery and combative by anyone's standards, much less the court's; Beethoven's patron Archduke Rudolph preempted any offense, however, by officially decreeing that court rules of decorum did not apply to Beethoven.
Beethoven engaged in a bitter custody battle with his sister-in-law upon his brother's death, despite the brother's wish the two share custody; Beethoven attempted to discredit the mother, Johanna, whom he found unfit, "due to questions of morality."
After the French Revolution, Beethoven wrote his Third Symphony in honor of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Beethoven viewed as a great liberator; when Bonaparte declared himself emporer, a disillusioned Beethoven scratched out Bonaparte's name so fiercely, he ripped a hole in his Symphony's title page.
FREEING THE BEETHOVEN NINE
Was he really a lonely, brooding genius, surly and tormented? How do we reconcile the Beethoven of legend with the composer who so eloquently exalts the human spirit?
-- Michael Clive
Music historian Piero Weiss was once asked by a documentary producer to work on a film about Beethoven. It was a plum assignment, but he refused. “They asked me to pin down what Beethoven was writing when he learned he was going deaf, to point to a specific passage to show the depths of his personal tragedy,” says Weiss. “But looking for his biography in his scores can only mislead us.” In fact, Beethoven was working on his joyful Symphony No. 2 when he learned his hearing would fail. He wrote to his brother about his suicidal feelings, yet while wrestling with them he went on to capture all the radiant pleasure of a slow summer twilight in the symphony’s expansive larghetto.
The influence of Beethoven’s teacher Mozart pervades his first two symphonies and piano concertos. But while Mozart’s sheer facility and inspiration show in hurriedly scrawled autograph scores — the music seems to have come to him as quickly as he could write it down — Beethoven struggled with every bar, constantly changing and reworking his musical ideas. Even in the classical serenity of his second symphony we can hear the urgency that compelled Beethoven to exhaust every musical resource at his command in every composition. Inheriting the classical schema of thematic exposition and development, Beethoven produced developmental sections of unprecedented thoroughness and ever-increasing challenge, pushing existing forms to their limits and beyond.
Where Haydn produced 104 symphonies and Mozart 41, Beethoven wrote only nine — but nine of such monumental sweep and profundity that every symphonist who followed him was destined to write in their shadow, and no one would ever again churn them out by the dozen. His symphonic writing shows us how Beethoven confronted concrete ideas with the abstractness of musical expression: the poetry and rigor of pastoral life in No. 6, or in No. 5 the philosophical tension between free will and fate, along with a triumphant resolution that belies his image as a snarling sociopath. No. 3, the Eroica, is one of his meditations on political freedom; he originally dedicated it to Napoleon, then angrily cut the name out of the score. He returns to this theme in his crowning No. 9, the "Ode to Joy," and in his sole opera, Fidelio.
Born into the classical era, Beethoven charged into it with a rebellious, questing, solitary genius that essentially brought musical romanticism into being. We can hear this clearly in his six great concertos, five for piano and one for violin. They musically prefigure core elements of literary romanticism, man against nature and the single hero fighting massed forces. So does all this mean Dr. Weiss was wrong? Does the music really tell us about Beethoven the man? Chamber musicians and soloists often contend that he is most demonstrably present in his piano sonatas and string quartets. But perhaps Weiss himself should have the last word. When one of his students at the Peabody Conservatory confessed that he really didn’t know the Beethoven quartets, Weiss smiled and his eyes filled with tears. “How I envy you,” he said. “You are in for the discovery of a lifetime.” That discovery is not a man or his ideas, but music itself.
BEETHOVEN IN THE NEWS
Daniel Barenboim, the Argentine-born conductor and long-term Berlin resident, who played a concert at the Brandenburg Gate with his Staatskapelle orchestra.
The Juilliard School has finished the construction of a secure archival storage space for its collection of valuable music manuscripts, and you have to hope that the designers left a little extra room in the shoulders and hips.
One quirk of the classical music world is that James Levine, illustrious and productive conductor that he is, has never led Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.
With a new book on the way, he talks of the music that made him.
The International Beethoven Project, which is already gearing up for its 2020 anniversary celebration of Beethoven's birth, has begun its countdown to its first performance ensemble recording in September. In March, the trio performed a recently discovered Beethoven piano trio, as well as the U.S. premiere of two other Beethoven trios.
BOB HUGHES' SIX DEGREES OF MOZART - FOR BEETHOVEN
As part of All-Time Classics, we bring you "Six Degrees of Mozart" ... for Beethoven. The great Mozart's musical, and sometimes personal, influence is pretty much everywhere imaginable. See where Beethoven falls in the web of Mozart:
- * Both had fathers who were musicians (Mozart's father Leopold was a noted violinist, Beethoven's father Ludwig was a singer and music director)
- * Both studied with Josef Haydn; Mozart was influenced by Haydn's compositions to develop his chamber music writing
- * Mozart met Beethoven in 1787 in Vienna, and after Beethoven improvised on a Mozart theme said, "Keep your eyes on him; some day he will give the world something to talk about."
- * Like Mozart, Beethoven was a Freemason, though not active in the organization
- * Beethoven wrote a cadenza to Mozart's piano concerto no. 2 in D Minor, K. 466
- * Shortly after Mozart's death, Beethoven played one of Mozart's keyboard concertos after the first act of a benefit performance of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito organized by his widow Constanze
- * Beethoven considered Die Zauberflöte the best of Mozart's operas (and the best German opera), for its ability to merge disparate styles
- * Beethoven once told Czerny that Mozart's String Quartet in A, K. 464, was so harmonically advanced that Mozart "was telling the world, 'Look what I could do if you were ready for it!'"
Beethoven Biography, Life of Ludwig Van Beethoven, from Favorite Classical Composers