The Friday Symposium: Beethoven’s Legacy

How does one even begin to assess the legacy of Ludwig van Beethoven? The King of Harmony well-deserved his title, even if his revolutionary use of rhythmic motifs would arguably prove to be his most lasting contribution to the language of music. His symphonies are unquestionably his lasting legacy, even if I personally find his … Continue reading The Friday Symposium: Beethoven’s Legacy

Armageddon: Beethoven’s Final Statement

Do not go gentle into that good night,Old age should burn and rave at close of day;Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Dylan Thomas And now, the end. Like Bach before him, Beethoven ends (at least for this history) with a fugue. Beethoven had written a grand fugue to close his String Quartet … Continue reading Armageddon: Beethoven’s Final Statement

The Greatest Music Ever Written

Time present and time pastAre both perhaps present in time future,And time future contained in time past.If all time is eternally presentAll time is unredeemable. T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, "Burnt Norton" The Ninth was not the end for Beethoven.  Having scaled to the very summit of what symphonic composition can achieve, he retreated into his … Continue reading The Greatest Music Ever Written

The Friday Symposium: Assessing the Recorded History of Beethoven’s Ninth

One of the great joys of classical music is delving into the often rich recorded history of a particular composition. Conductors, often lampooned in popular culture, are all very serious students of the music they perform and their directorial decisions significantly shape the music we hear. How? Tempo is the most obvious lever, but so … Continue reading The Friday Symposium: Assessing the Recorded History of Beethoven’s Ninth

The Answer is Joy

Beethoven is the ultimate progressive, believing that the world exists for us to improve. While his own circumstances were miserable – loveless, pain-stricken and frustratingly deaf – he retained to the last a shining faith in peace and understanding. Norman Lebrecht At the end of his Missa Solemnis, Beethoven asks great and terrible questions. Why … Continue reading The Answer is Joy