Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Girl With the Rose-Colored Beethoven Tattoo

It's hard to describe Kat Von D--she's famous for her tattoos and as a tattoo artist, is a kind of model, has fragrance and cosmetic lines at Sephora, owns a gallery, featured on TV, wrote a bestselling book, and more. Today I noted at Twitter that she had posted a photo of the huge tattoo on one of her thighs of...yes, Ludwig. She also has "LvB" tattoed on one of her fingers. Here's a story about all that (she is a classically trained pianist) and that's the photo she tweeted at left.  But more on Beethovenmania in our new book.

Hymn and Her

Yes, I admit in our new book that Copying Beethoven is deeply flawed but the ending (though purely fictional) has its merits: Ed Harris as Beethoven on his death dictating the astounding Heiliger Dankgesang opus 132 movement to his copyist (Diane Kruger) as it plays on soundtrack.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bed-Stuy and Beyond

NPR on amazing Beethoven "re-mix" project in NY's gritty Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Taking the Eroica and running with it. Follow link above to listen to the five finalists (at bottom of page) and watch Mos Def sitting in with the orchestra doing his own (non-LvB) piece:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Carrying a Torch

Yes, by most accounts, Schubert carried a torch in the great funeral procession for Beethoven, 185 years ago today--and died soon after, and now they are buried in close proximity. For the music played that day, see below. The close of the famous funeral oration by Franz Grillparzer:

"And you who have followed his escort to this place, hold your sorrow in sway. You have not lost him but won him. No living man enters the halls of immortality. The body must die before the gates are opened. He whom you mourn is now among the greatest men of all time, unassailable forever. Return to your homes, then, distressed but composed. And whenever, during your lives, the power of his works overwhelms you like a coming storm; when your rapture pours out in the midst of a generation yet unborn; then remember this hour and think: we were there when they buried him, and when he died we wept."

Beethoven's Funeral

Yes, the great man's funeral took place on this date in 1827. What may be surprise is a piece of music played, as we mention in our new book: the "Equali" for trombones that he wrote for another funeral. Here:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Crazy Guy Upstairs

Perhaps you've heard about--or even grew up with--the book and then video and more for children, Beethoven Lives Upstairs.  In gthe Beethoven and Film section of our new book we describe it in full, but here's how the film winds up, naturally with the Ninth Symphony, and the boy saying, "Maybe he WILL change the world...bit but bit." 

Rosanne Cash Meets Ludwig

Never met her in person, but long a fan of Rosanne Cash--and for the past couple of years personally friendly via Twitter with a lot of back and forth. She's a Beethoven fan, as I noted in our new book,  and I have sent her a few things to listen to. Yesterday she sent me this photo from her recent visit to "Casa Beethoven." No, not one of his apartments in Vienna but a music store in Barcelona.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dudley Does Right

If you have somehow missed Dudley Moore's classic Beethoven parody (also available at YouTube in later, color TV version). Of course it's well-known that Dudley was quite a player, beyond this fringe.

Make Way for 'The Archduke'

As I may have mentioned (two or three times), the slow movement of The Archduke trio is almost my favorite Beethoven piece, if not most beautiful of all.  Recently discovered this historic version, more adagio than andante,  not to be missed, with Casals, an extraordinary Vegh, and Horszowski. In our new book, Jeremy Denk calls this his favorite piece of music, "the holiest of the holy."

Monday, March 26, 2012

On Beethoven's Passing

Some 185 years ago today, in 1827: Another fan's tribute here, photos with music.

Biking With Beethoven

Saw new French film The Kid With a Bike tonight.  I posted the trailer here recently (and again below), noting that it featured a good deal of the slow movement of the Piano Concerto No. 5 which also supposedly plays a key role in the movie, according to the NYT review.  Well, the film was initially gripping--abandoned kid tries to cope--but ultimately a bit disappointing, and as it turns out there was more Ludwig in the trailer than in the movie itself.  Very brief snippets of the concerto are heard three times during the film, but then...nothing, with a lengthy excerpt only appearing over the credits. 

Beethoven in Action

I've written about my own Beethoven Action Figure in the past, and now Steve Benson sends along this photo he took of a show window in Provincetown, Ma.  in 2004.  Quite a pantheon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Buck It, Liszt?

Just back from speaking at my hometown library on Lvb (see below) before a fine recital, with Yashar Yaslowitz playing as an encore the first movement of the Fifth Symphony as transcribed for piano by Liszt. I might prefer the 6th from Liszt, but here's the Leslie Howard piano version of No. 5's opening:

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

My weekly feature has a twist: Today it will also be Sunday Night in the Library of Beethoven.  Once again I will be talking about our new Beethoven at my hometown Nyack (NY) Library at 7:30, and then introducing the director of the library's acclaimed classical music series, Yashar Yaslowitz, who is finally giving his own recital -- an all-Beethoven program, natch.   One piece: the Pathetique (see below, with Daniel Barenboim).  I'll also be selling and signing books.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ludwig's New Hit Single

Over 740,000 hits so far for this Soulwax "re-mix" of Walter Muprhy's legendary "Fifth of Beethoven," making this sort of a parody of a parody across the centuries. Saturday night feverish.

Nelson van Beethoven

It's Saturday morning so perhaps you would like to return to your youth with a TV cartoon.  One brief, classic moment, really needing no translation,  below, from The Simpsons.  And another Ludwig joke I just spied at Twitter: "Emergency at Symphony Hall:  It's the bottom of The Ninth and the bassists are loaded!"

Friday, March 23, 2012

Another Symphonic Quartet

Yesterday I brought you (see below) what Leonard Bernstein said was his favorite recording: his symphonic version of Beethoven's opus 131 string quartet.  Now, in  the same unusual vein,  here's the great Furtwangler conducting the revolutionary Grosse Fuge:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hipster Beethoven

This made my day. Thanks to Lauren and Andrew.   Rumor has it he also liked tight pants, but never facial hair. Would have loved early Arcade Fire. Commenter says here: "liked his amateur work, you know before the commercial success; just a dude on a piano playing what he feels."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Joni Mitchell's "Judgment" on Beethoven

My co-author, Kerry Candaele (see book cover on top right of this page), will occasionally also be contributing to this blog.  Recently he sent this along:  As far as I know, there are not many contemporary musicians or songwriters who have written songs about Beethoven.  Joni Michell did, and offered up "Judgment of The Moon and Stars" as her take on Beethoven in the early 1970s. It's obvious that she did some research before sitting down to compose.  Recorded version follows.  There's also a live version on YouTube in which she says she wrote it as a kind of "pep talk" for Ludwig after reading this terrific book. -- Kerry Candaele

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bernstein, Beethoven, Berlin

One of the most famous LvB concerts of all-time took place in 1989, and I can only be referring to the monumental affair in Germany, led by Leonard Bernstein, that marked the fall of the Berlin Wall, with lyrics of "Ode to Joy" changed to "Ode to Freedom."    Of course, such uses of The Ninth are a mjaor theme in our new Journeys With Beethoven book.  Here are a few brief highlights--the whole concert can be found at YouTube, on DVD, CD,  etc.

Monday, March 19, 2012

When Dylan Put Ma Rainey and Pa Beethoven in Bed Together

Bob Dylan, my OTHER musical hero, released his first album 50 years ago today, they say, although it took me, and most others, until at least #2 to catch on.  So, what is the one Dylan song where he mentions LvB?  Buzzzzzzz, your time's up.  Of course, it is "Tombstone Blues," off his greatest album, Highway 61 Revisited, from 1965.   The line is "Ma Rainey and Beethoven once unwrapped a bed roll."  Someone helpfully did a mashup of the pair at left.   Ma, of course, was the great blues singer later immortalzed on Broadway for her "black bottom."    The song is here, although guitarist Mike Bloomfield gets the heading to sneak this past You Tube.

Thanks Giving in March

As it may become clear here over time (if not already), one of my favorite of all of Beethoven's achievements--in fact, one of man's--is the "Heiliger Dankgesang" movement of the opus 132 string quartet.  Rather than rave on, for now I will simply offer you this remarkable 55-minute talk, with live music by the fine St. Lawrence Quartet,  about the movement by the well-known speaker and radio host/guest, Rob Kapilow.  And here's the "Hymn of Thanks Giving" movement on its own.

Spring Training!

Still a couple of days until official start of spring, but with the unusually warm weather continuing in many parts of the country here is something to get you ready (and perhaps bring back some childhood memories): The opening of the Fantasia sequence featuring the Pastoral symphony.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

John Adams and Ludwig's 'Jokes'

A Twitter friend tipped me off yesterday to the San Francisco Symphony premiere of a John Adams work built around LvB scherzos from some of his quartets. She had just attended and found it amazing. Here are the detailed program notes with plenty of Adams quotes, such as: “I frequently have these powerful, archetypal experiences with Beethoven, but with the piano sonatas and the quartets, which for me are the most vivid, rather than with the symphonies and the public music that gets heard all the time.”  Adams explains:

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

Continuing my weekly feature: It's YouTube's most popular version of the opening movement of the Moonlight, which I saw her do live in NYC at a WQXR marathon a few months back. It's wonderful but an example of the slow tempo approach that Andras Schiff complains leaves enough time to eat lunch while it's still going on.

Kubrick and the 'Ludovico Technique'

Well, my droogies,  the chilly "ultra-violence" of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange has been getting renewed attention of late.  In our new book, we talk about the key role Beethoven plays in that film, and its soundtrack, but here's a longer analysis with clips from the film that points to some things I've missed completely (such as the lock combination based on a pair of 9s).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Beethoven, Tolstoy, and Murder in New York

Just back from New York and seeing,  at one of the tiny LaMaMa theaters in the East Village, the acclaimed play just imported from London, The Kreutzer Sonata, based on the Tolstoy novella. I've previewed it a couple times here already, and here's the NYT review,  but I'm happy to report now that it is quite terrific, though closing a week from tomorrow.  It's the story of a man confessing to fellow train passengers that he was driven by jealousy to murdering his wife (and then acquitted by a jury).  In the play, he addresses the audience directly with no other travelers in the train compartment.  However, behind a screen, his wife, who is a pianist, and a violinist (were they having an affair?) come and go, playing snatches of the famous Beethoven violin sonata in period garb. 

While their recital, playing the Kreutzer, is important the husband in the play (unlike in the novella) does not directly blame it for driving his wife wild with sexual energy.  The acting is great and the ending (and much else) nicely ambiguous.  Here's the trailer for the show:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Beethoven for St. Patrick's Day

It may surprise many to learn that Beethoven--while he was no Pete Seeger--also spent a good deal of time writing or adapting "folks songs" from many lands, including Ireland.  So here is a selection of a few.  Don't miss the second one, the great "Massacre at Glencoe." It's actually a famous incident in Scotland but Ludwig included it in his Irish cycle.

The Kid With a Bike--and Beethoven

A few weeks back I carried the trailer for the award-winning film The Kid With a Bike by the famed Dardenne brothers that featured the slow movement of the Emperor piano concerto.  Now the movie has finally opened in New York, and the Times reviews it today.  Excerpt: "...brief flourishes from Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (the 'Emperor' Concerto) that punctuate several scenes, a use of music that recalls the films of Robert Bresson, an important influence on the Dardennes. The use of the Beethoven, the music soaring, as well as what appears to be a kind of resurrection, makes it easy to read 'The Kid With a Bike' as a religious allegory, though that would be reductive."  Here is the trailer again:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Robeson Finds 'Joy'

Our new book features a full chapter on Billy Bragg talking about his new version of the "Ode to Joy" with re-written lyrics, and I've featured at this blog links to excerpts and even Billy singing it.  In the book we mention previous famous versions with lyrics translated into English, such as Paul Robeson's.  Well, here's Paul:

The Gould Standard

Glenn Gould had a (to be kind) rather spotty record re: Beethoven in his recorded works.  He even voiced dislike for the master's "heroic" period and it showed in some of Gould's work.  But as I have perhaps mentioned before (and cover in our new book) my favorite of all of Glenn's Beethoven interpretations is the Liszt piano transcription of the Pastoral Symphony.  A favorite movement. Here he plays a bit on film:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beatles 'Roll' in Home of Beethoven

Continuing our survey of versions of our title tune:  We've carried a couple of other Beatles takes (live ones)  but here is the earliest--from their famous (very) early days in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962.  I was just reminded about this watching the George Harrison doc on HBO tonight. Sound quality of course is rough.

This 'One' Is Not the Loneliest Number

Today's special "concert" treat: The ever-wonderful Paul Lewis doing the underated Piano Concerto No. 1 in one video file.

Beethoven or Bust?

Rodin and Michelangelo roll over in respective graves:  Watch robot carving terrific bust of our boy Ludwig out of foam...And more fun today:  Big flap in soccer world after the legendary Pele compares himself to Beethoven and another great, Maradona, rips him, saying if that's true that he is Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Bono combined. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hating Ludwig

The well-regarded young Ebene Quartet (appearing at Carnegie this week) talk about going from Beethoven haters to lovers--and what may happen 100 years from now.

How Beethoven Won World War II

Well, slight exaggeration.   But, as is well known, the first four notes of the Fifth Symphony were a key part of the "V for Victory" campaign (led by Churchill) in occupied Europe, and in England, as a sign of resistance.  British radio broadcasts often opened with the first notes of the Fifth Symphony because their rhythm in Morse code is the letter "V" for victory.  Also the RAF used the signal of the first four notes--three short, one long--to communicate in a special Morse code. It is said that many in Europe relished idea of the great German composer being used against the Nazis  And V, of course, is Roman numeral for...five.  All in all, a very special kind of V for vendetta.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Reich and Wrong

Yes, as we show in our new book, Beethoven's music (and particularly The Ninth)  has inspired millions of people around the world to take positive action in their own lives or in their societies.  One must also admit that the Nazis also embraced LvB who was, after all, a German icon (though they preferred Wagner).   One of the most controversial nights in music history took place in April, 1942, when The Ninth was played for Hitler's birthday, although he did not attend.  Perhaps he preferred the Fifth.

In any case, film footage has long existed of the closing moments of the performance, conducted by the legendary Wilhelm Furtwangler,  showing various Nazi leaders listening to "all men must become brothers" and applauding at the end.  And then the key moment: Nazi henchman Goebbels steps forward and shakes Furtwangler's hand.  The conductor (who had a very mixed record in relation to the Reich)  looks uncomfortable, and then we see him transfer his handkerchief from his left hand to his right--as if to erase the stain.  Or not?  We'll never know, but controversy has raged. Watch the footage for yourself--and also check out the movie from a few years back about Furtwangler, Taking Sides, which concludes with the handkerchief transfer:

'Hammer' Time

Apropos of nothing, but who needs a reason when it's Brendel and the Hammerklavier (complete at YouTube, here is the opening).

Tolstoy Meets Beethoven in New York

A couple weeks back, I noted that the acclaimed London play The Kreutzer Sonata was coming to New York, and now it has arrived off-Broadway, and with a favorable New York Times review today. Only around for two weeks but I hope to attend. It's based on the Tolstoy novella, of course, which revolves around LvB's famous violin/piano sonata and its effects on a marriage. Here's a trailer from London:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

'Joy' Full Muppets

If you have somehow missed this -- not being among the 18 million who have viewed just this video at YouTube.

Still Front Page News

In case you missed yesterday's New York Times, LvB made a key appearance in the opening paragraph of the top story on the front page: "Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, who is French, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany are close. 'They are on a first-name basis' write Nicholas Kulish and Annie Lowrey. 'They frequently exchange text messages. Shortly after Christmas, Ms. Lagarde brought Ms. Merkel a trinket from Herm├Ęs and received a recording of the Berlin Philharmonic playing Beethoven from Ms. Merkel, a classical music lover.'” A trinket vs. Beethoven, who do you think came out ahead?

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

Continuing our weekly feature launched via Twitter three years ago, inspired by actual such "churches" that meet on Sundays: This week, it's the finale of the third movement of the "Archduke" trio. Jeremy Denk, who is featured in our new book, calls it his favorite piece of music, the "holiest" (in its own way) of all.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Night Live

From back in the day of other kinds of live TV, two of the greats, Glenn Gould and Leonard Rose, cello sonata no. 3.

Beethoven Spectacle

It's true that I've missed out on earlier incarnations of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Beethoven's Last Night spectacle, and have never quite "got" it, but they are back and here is a review that summarizes the show.  Music ranges from a bit of LvB to loud arena rock.  Also, this video with photos and music traces the entire plot, as Ludwig decides whether to make a deal with the devil:  He can keep his soul but all of his compositions are wiped from the memory of mankind.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Trombone Shorts

You may not know that Beethoven wrote a little music for trombone. I certainly did not know it until I interviewed Joseph Alessi, principal trombonist for the NY Phil, for our new book (there's a lengthy chapter with him therein).   Alessi plays on one of the few recordings. The brief "Equale" were actually played at a famous funeral... Beethoven's own. And here they are.

John Lennon's "Roll"

In our survey of versions of our title tune, we have already covered a couple of the Beatles efforts, always with George on lead vocal.  But here's John Lennon's own rarely-heard version, from his Elephant's Memory period.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ives Takes the Fifth

One of my all-time favorite pieces of non-Beethoven music naturally pays homage to Ludwig.  It's "The Alcotts" movement from Charles Ives' Concord piano sonata.  I've seen Jeremy Denk (who is featured in our new book) do justice to it at Carnegie Hall, and he also has a fine recording of it, as does Aimard, among others.  But here's a real treat: Ives himself playing it.  If not especially well, at least movingly:

Critical Mass

I've linked once before to the BBC docu-drama on Beethoven from a few years back that really is pretty good,  especially in light of other LvB-related film treatments.  Here is a terrific nine-minute segment mainly about the writing of the Missa Solemnis, with key excerpts.

Another Tortured Soul

Before his turn as John McCain in this weekend's HBO Game Change, Ed Harris played dozens of memorable roles on film and some maybe not so memorable, such as LvB in the disappointing Copying Beethoven. In our new book I described him in the film as "John Glenn in a fright wig." Also his hearing loss comes and goes. But at least he never sleeps with Diane Kruger. And the so-so film helped inspire my Beethoven obsession of recent years. The trailer:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An Animated Response

A quite beautiful animated life of Beethoven, with music, and no subtitles needed.

A Grave Matter

Nice blog post by musicians' agent (and singer and pianist) who visits LvB's grave in Vienna, reads the oration for his funeral through her tears, then recalls the Immortal Beloved letters (and reprints them).

Cheeky Ludwig

Folks, give me some credit: I did resist posting this for three days.  But now it's gone viral so I might as well give in, since one of the purposes of this blog is to chart Beethoven's amazing influence in every sphere around the globe, including pop culture.  So here it is,  a video that could be titled, "Butthoven's Fifth."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Greatest Concert Ever

As I've written extensively online (and now in our new book), the greatest concert ever staged--in terms of enduring significance--took place over 200 years ago, on a fabled cold December night in Vienna in 1808. That evening Beethoven debuted not just his Fifth and Sixth ("Pastoral") symphonies, but also the astounding Piano Concerto No. 4.  Oh, and the Choral Fantasy. And part of his Mass in C Major. And he improvised at the piano, too. It went on far too long, the musicians were under-rehearsed, a candle may have been knocked off the piano.  But no matter.  I've always enjoyed this brief clip from a three-hour BBC docu-drama about LvB from a few years back that covers the concert while also also offering a credible depiction of an irascible Ludwig:

When It Began to Get 'Late'

On this date in 1825, Beethoven's groundbreaking opus 127, the first of his so-called "late" quartets, received its public unveiling in Vienna by the Schuppanzigh Quartet. As the story goes, it was something of a disaster. In the inimitable Beethoven manner, he had only given them a couple of days to rehearse--and handed them a score like no other before. Furious when told how badly it went (of course, by that time, he could not hear it himself), LvB then lined up another quartet to play it the following month, to much acclaim.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beethoven Seizes House Organ!

One of the wackiest scenes in any major film about Beethoven (and we cover them all in our new book) transpires in Abel Gance's otherwise compelling bio pic.  The purely fictional scene has one of Ludwig's true loves about to march up the aisle in a cathedral but instead of hearing the wedding march she faces one of Beethoven's famous funeral marches.  It seems he has hijacked the organ and maybe the organist!  Gance, of course, was one of the great directors of the silent era, and his Napoleon is one of my all-time favorites.  Enjoy:

Seventh Heaven

Following my thread on Symphony No. 7,  around and after performance in NYC on Saturday, here is a fine new video with the former LA Phil conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen talking about it and rehearsing it. I like the bit about LvB boxing himself into a corner and then miraculously getting out.

John, Paul, George and ... Jimmy?

Continuing our traversal of versions of our title track, here's a bit of history: The Beatles, at their popular peak, performing "Roll Over, Beethoven" live...without Ringo.  Seems the poor chap was sick for this  tour and replaced by someone named Jimmy Nicol.  The camera manages to cover that up not quite completely.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Vanessa, as Isadora, Dances Beethoven

Head still spinning from experiencing the Zinman 7th last night (see below on this page), recalling Wagner's famous description of it--"the apotheosis of the dance"--and now my wife reminds me of videos of ballet treatments.  This one kind of amazes me.  I saw young Vanessa Redgrave as Isadora Duncan way back when but certainly don't recall the Beethoven dance segment:

Limsanity

Anyone ever hear of a pianist recording all 32 of LvB's sonatas for a major label--at the age of 24?  Korean wunderkind H.J. Lim  is doing just that for EMI.  Here's a brief sample.

Zinsanity

As I noted in my brief update last night, the concert last night at Avery Fisher in NYC, with David Zinman conducting the NY Phil doing the 2nd and 7th symphonies, was a smash hit. Yes, I had somehow nabbed 7th row center seats at the last minute but the entire packed hall erupted for four curtain calls at the end. The entire Zinman/LvB festival was so highly anticipated they booked about 10 days of it.  His approach of going bact to the Beethoven manuscripts, mixed with some "period" flavorings (though with modern instruments) felt fresh 25 years ago--and live it is astounding, with super-crisp playing and hidden elements brought to the fore. The slow movement of the 7th is played as a thoughtful "walk" rather than as a funeral march.

My friend Robert Jay Lifton (we've written two books together), who went with us, greeted us afterward with the words, "NOW I get why you are obsessed with Beethoven." I guess the "rock 'n roll" of the final movement of the 7th helped bring that home (see video down the page a bit), but was so much more, even in the much less renowned 2nd.  In the item below you can see link to NYT review and interview with Zinman.  Now here's a quite different version:  the allegretto of the 7th for solo piano, as transcribed by Liszt, but also taken at "walk," not the usual "march." 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Billy Bragg: From Woody to Ludwig

I've just written a new piece for The Nation, with excerpts from the chapter in our new book on Billy Bragg's updated lyrics for the "Ode to Joy."   Includes Kerry's interview with Billy.  Plus:  photo of Billy after he played it for the Queen, and audio of him singing it.

David and Goliath

Heading to New York City and Avery Fisher this afternoon for David Zinman conducting the 2nd and 7th (with a Stravinsky refresher in between) tonight, see NYT rave here.  Zinman talks about it (with a brisk tempo) below. UPDATE: Just back from concert. WOW. More on Sunday.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Muppets Do Mad Beethoven

One of several examples. Here's Ludwig commenting on the pianist as if to Glenn Gould: "Don't hum!".... And, on a somewhat more serious note, NYT review of last night's premiere of the Mark Morris dance for the Cboral Fantasy (previewed here earlier this week, see below).

Lord of 'The Dance'

Wagner famously called it "the apotheosis of the dance." I have perhaps foolishly dubbed it "the birth of rock 'n roll." It is, of course, the final movement of the Symphony No. 7. Yes, it's not as celebrated as the slow movement--featured in so many movies, most recently at the climax of The King's Speech--but it is just as significant. Last time I heard it live it was with over 100,000 others, in Central Park. Now I will catch it again tomorrow night (David Zinman also doing the Symphony No. 2 and Peter Serkin helping out on Stravinsky "Capriccio) at Lincoln Center, in great seats that just now popped up at their web site. A Vienna Phil version below. Now, as any lead singer in a rock band might declare: "Get out or yer seat and dance!"

When My LvB Obsession Began

As I reveal in our new book, my Beethoven obsession in recent years was (oddly enough) triggered by a single, brief mention of his Appassionata in my favorite film of the past decade, the Academy Award winning German movie, The Lives of Others.   The central character in the film, an East German playwright under investigation by the Stasi, plays a bit of a piano piece and then says to his lover that Lenin once remarked that if he kept listening to the Appassionata he would never be able to finish the revolution (that is, engage in brutal acts).  The Stasi man monitoring the conversation, moved by the music and the comment, decides to become a "good man."  Watch it here:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Got Milk?

If you do, perhaps you could try to repeat this.  Brooklyn photographer Sarah Naim has gotten a good deal of coverage (she's even mentioned in our new book)  for her original project: Seeing what the Moonlight sonata would look like after the music sailed through.... milk.  She did it by putting plates of milk on top of a speaker and taking pictures at high speed.  Supposedly you can look at the photos while listening and maybe ID which portions caused which ripples and bubbles.

Jimmy Fallon Introduces The Band

If you missed this on SNL a few weeks back: Jimmy Fallon as Ludwig finishes conducting the Ninth Symphony at its debut and then, Vegas style, introduces the musicians....

If You've Never Seen 'Ghost'

Not much to say here except that this is one of the greatest musical moments captured on video: the haunting slow movement of "The Ghost" with du Pre-Barenboim-Zuckerman (it's in two parts).