| Subscribe via RSS

New to classical? Want to get started? Visit my beginners guide to classical music! Or start browsing the different composers.

Not the 9th

September 14th, 2010 Posted in beethoven, youtube

Beethoven is a tough little nut to crack. I remember once reading that you should get through all of Shostakovich’s string quartets before even attempting to understand Beethoven’s. Beethoven is so famous that it’s sort of overwhelming when you first start listening to classical music, because it seems like all of his music should sound amazing right away.  And a lot of it doesn’t. I remember it sounding surprisingly… old fashioned. I suspect that at a lot of people claim they think the 9th is the epitome of great music, when in fact they don’t like it that much at all, they’re just playing to its reputation.

I’ve been listening to classical music for just over six years now, and I still only know a small portion of Beethoven’s stuff well. Every couple months I’ll inch into a new (“new”!) one of his pieces, either deliberately or accidentally. The latest incarnation of this was the 24th piano sonata, in particular the second movement:

YouTube Preview Image

This came through my headphones halfway up the march up the slope to work. It grabbed my attention because the first few bars instantly made me think of “Rule Brittania” in a somewhat cheesy fashion, and then right as I was about to skip the track  it abruptly slipped into that crunchy dissonance. I love that kind of contrast, especially when it was composed such a long time ago. This is the kind of piece that makes me truly appreciate what a pioneer Beethoven was: things like the last movement of the Hammerklavier sonata, and the Grosse Fugue. Not the 9th.

3 Responses to “Not the 9th”

  1. GCComposer Says:

    Agreed. I love Beethoven for the things it took me years to understand.

    The question is, how do we share that with people on a shorter time frame?

    Grant Charles Chaput

  2. Unknown Says:

    Hello! I am a classical convert. I am not sure how i came to be one. But anyways, i would like to share some very intersting things about classical music. I am sure that you have heard that classical music is good for you, right? Well I came upon some very interesting information. I would like to share some of it.

    In 1717 King George II was experiencing what I believe would be termed today “stress overload”. He was, after all, ruling the greatest nation of the age, carrying the responsibilities and pressure that goes with that. He was not thinking clearly, sleeping well, or making good decisions. After many attempts to remedy the situation, someone in the court reminded him of the biblical story of King Saul who found himself in a similar situation in ancient Israel. One of his advisors suggested he call forth a young shepherd boy from nearby Bethlehem to play for him with his harp (lyre). He did so, and the results are recorded in the book of Samuel: “And it came to pass, when the evil spirt…was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” I Samuel 16:23 George asked if there was an equivalent in London to this “Hebrew harp healer”. It was suggested that Handel, a world renowned German/Italian Operatic composer had recently re-located in London, and might do the trick. He did indeed, composing the commissioned work to be played by small orchestra on board the King’s barge upon the Thames. Handel’s skill immortalized him with the British, even causing him to be buried in Westminster Abbey next to Kings and Queens. The element that sets Handel’s Water Music, as well as other works from the Baroque Era is the high degree of order that is used. All repetition proceeds with variation with each recurrence. Handel juxtaposed musical themes against each other and repeated thematic material using variance of instrumentation and texture with each statement. These subtle, and sometimes bold variations often stimulates the brain, which recognizes the difference, even without explanation or examination. This quality is the salient ingredient of the music of the Baroque period (1685-1750). It is marked by repetition always clothed in continual variation. Within the Water Music there are ?? movements of differing keys, tempi, and instrumentation. Within that collection, there should be something that will stimulate your personal cognitive needs. Experiment with it, and find which movements help you the most. There is a great deal of patterning in this music making it easy to evaluate. If we look at the Hornpipe movement we find that the outline or sequence is rather straightforward: a,a’(a theme repeated with slight variation) b b’(new material repeated with slight variation) a,a’ bb’c, (new material) then a bridge (new material forming connecting music) and a return to the a section. This kind of formal treatment of melodic sequence sets up expectations in the mind wherein modifications become evident and stimulating. The brain loves to juxtapose bits of information side by side and notice same and different. It is the salient quality that a computer uses to function.
    (Dr. Michael Ballam)
    Well there is more to the story. of what i want to share. like scientific studies which were done with Handels Water music. I don’t want to leave a massive reply. but if you want more information about why classical music is good for you, well some not all, go to beet9hoven.blogspot.com and go to the blog arcieve and look for the post “Words and Water Music” There is also other data about scientific studies done on classical music.

  3. emi Says:

Leave a Reply