Category: Music

  • The New Yorker Reviews Beethoven and Shostakovich Symphony Cycles

    Here’s a great article on classical music: The New Yorker Reviews the Beethoven and Shostakovich symphony cycles at the Lincoln Centre. I was made aware of this excellent example of music criticism via a post by Charles Noble on the Daily Observations blog. Sample extract: Yet the two composers [ie Beethoven and Shostakovich] are not…

  • Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Best Recorded Version

    I am enjoying Andre Previn’s version of the complete incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the London Symphony Orchestra. This seems to be the highest recommendation for anyone looking for the complete orchestral music. The Pengiun Guide To Compact Discs & CDs calls it: ‘[A] wonderfully refreshing complete score. The veiled pianissimo of…

  • Video: Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, Beethoven Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral)

    A wonderful performance of all four movements of the Pastoral Symphony. This was recently added to YouTube – I don’t know when the recording was made. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GWMApWKQIY] [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMITF0DWJyE] [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DmCI1EHQMg] [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir9797qNVk0]

  • Leonard Bernstein on Why Beethoven is the Greatest

    Here’s Bernstein’s rationalisation on why he considered Beethoven the greatest composer who ever lived. It’s from his book The Joy of Music, in the chapter entitled Why Beethoven?, and it’s told in the form of a dialogue between Berstein (L.B.) and an unnamed Lyric Poet (L.P.). After much discussion around the subject of Beethoven’s melody,…

  • Beethoven’s Molecular Growth, and Why He’s Probably the Greatest Composer Who Ever Lived

    In the Charles Eliot Norton lectures, Leonard Bernstein analyses Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, and highlights one of Beethoven’s greatest strengths as a composer: [The 6th Symphony] exemplifies that special molecular growth process of his, the incredibly ongoing quality of his music, whereby motifs, or parts of motifs, can become attached, or detached, in infinite numbers of…

  • Repetition in Beethoven’s Symphony No.6

    Many commentators remark on the amount of repetition within the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No.6. Antony Hopkins, in his book The Nine Symphonies of Beethoven, sees it as another metaphor for nature: One of the most notable characteristics of the entire first movement is its exploitation of repetition, the repetition of pattern that we…

  • Video: Glenn Gould Plays Excerpts From Beethoven’s Symphony No.6

    I discovered this short Japanese film about Glenn Gould on YouTube in which he discusses how he removes himself from the city in order to get away from ’emotional escalation’. At the start is a clip of him playing excerpts from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in a transcription for piano by Franz Liszt – skip…

  • Video: Disney’s Fantasia and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony

    Terry Teachout’s heart-warming post about music that makes him smile (scroll down to ‘Make Me Smile’) reminded me that the Disney film Fantasia had a whole sequence devoted to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, the Pastoral Symphony. I couldn’t remember that much detail about it, so went searching, and what do you know but I found…

  • Beethoven – Classical or Romantic

    Was Beethoven a Classical or a Romantic composer? The 6th Symphony seems to present the strongest case for the latter – it’s a programmatic work, and program music is a distinctive element of much romantic music. It was written in 1808, just three years after Wordworth finished his 13-book Prelude, when the romantic movement in…

  • Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and Wordsworth’s The Prelude

    The Culture Club has chosen for its next session to discuss Beethoven’s 6th Symphony and Wordsworth’s two-part Prelude of 1799, because both are related to the countryside. While reading around the subject, I came across this quote which reveals a deeper link between the two. This is from Richard Osborne’s chapter on Beethoven, from the…