A Gert History of Music

Under Siege: Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto

In 1809, Vienna was under siege by Napoleon and Beethoven, now more or less completely deaf, was hiding in his brother’s basement.  Terrified and feeling, perhaps more than others, the constant percussive effect of war, Beethoven produced one of his best compositions, the Emperor concerto.  It would prove to be his final statement on the … Continue reading Under Siege: Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto

A Mass Made Operatic: Fidelio

When I look back across my entire life, I find no event to place beside this in the impression it produced on me. Richard Wagner, on Fidelio In 1950, one of the greatest conductors of all-time, Wilhelm Furtwängler led a production of Beethoven’s lone operatic effort, Fidelio, in Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg. And what a … Continue reading A Mass Made Operatic: Fidelio

The Friday Symposium: Chianti and Rossini

As Beethoven entered his Late Period, he was facing intense competition for his audience. While Beethoven was placing ever increasing demands on his audience, requiring them to accept novel harmonics, extreme dissonances, and uncertain forms, a young composer from Italy was giving Viennese audiences exactly what they wanted–timeless, easy melodies and a rollicking good time … Continue reading The Friday Symposium: Chianti and Rossini

Inclyti sed victi

He loved to be alone with Nature, to make her his only confidante. When his brain was reeling with confused ideas, Nature at all times comforted him. Countess Theresa of Brunswick How glad I am to be able to roam in wood and thicket, among the trees and flowers and rocks. No one can love … Continue reading Inclyti sed victi

The Friday Symposium: Music and Cocktails for the Last Days of Summer

The last days of summer don’t mean as much as they used to these days. While some, no doubt, will board their last train back to the City on Monday afternoon, or otherwise brave the traffic and the dreaded LIE, come Tuesday morning I will still find myself seated here, 100 miles from the office … Continue reading The Friday Symposium: Music and Cocktails for the Last Days of Summer

The Breath of Life: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto

I can’t recall if my father owned a copy of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Our resources were limited and he most concerned himself with collecting the recordings of great pianists performing the highlights of the late Classical and Romantic repertoire. So it is entirely possible that my first brush with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto came in 1983 … Continue reading The Breath of Life: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto


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