Happy Beethoven's Birthday!

Growltiger

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...That makes sense considering that when Sony helped develop the audio compact disc, they ensured that the medium would accommodate the length of Beethoven's Symphony #9. ...
Yes, isn't that an interesting fact. The original design requirement was for a minimum of one hour disk, and the prototypes developed by Sony and Philips were 115mm in diameter. When it was pointed out about the need to get Beethoven's 9th onto one disk they had to change the design to a diameter of 120mm to allow 74 minutes.

The reason such a small increase in size gives so much more recording time is because the speed under the laser is constant, so the disk rotates much more slowly when reading the additional outer area.

Now why was the original diameter exactly 115mm? Because that is the size of an audio cassette (its diagonal is 115mm). Philips invented the audio cassette earlier.
 
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The cello sonatas...And let's not forget the Diabelli Variations and the C minor variations, too. The string trio.s op. 9 are overlooked, too, but they're just perfect.
I don't know many cello sonatas, whether accompanied or unaccompanied. I decided months ago that learning the more famous cello sonatas composed by anyone will be on my to-do list for 2021.

It has been so long since I've heard the Diabelli Variations that I don't remember it. I don't think I've heard the C minor variations, so I'll attend to both. I definitely want to learn the string trios, as that's a favorite genre.

For clunkers, there are Wellington's Victory and the Ruins of Athens.
How in the world did I forget about Wellington's Victory? Definitely a clunker. Ruins of Athens works reasonably well for me, but not nearly as much as most of his other overtures. Feastday Overture doesn't do anything for me.
 
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While we're discussing Beethoven's music, I'll wager that very few if any of you have heard his two Preludes for keyboard. They were composed when he was 19. I just learned about them recently because they are included in a collection of piano preludes, some of which I practice (the more accurate term would be ruin).

I'm currently working on the first prelude, the better one of the two. Both preludes go through all twelve major keys beginning with C Major, progressing in the order of the circle of fifths, and ending in C Major. Actually, they go through 13 keys because they include C# Major and D-flat Major. I have no idea why anyone would write in C# major for a keyboard instrument considering that the same keys are played regardless of the score's key signature; the key signature in C# Major has seven sharps as opposed to only five flats in D-flat major and with fewer accidentals usually required.

I'm convinced the first Prelude was written for organ, not an instrument that we typically associate with Beethoven. That's because the codetta includes a low note sustained for a long time beneath all the other music going on above it. That note can easily be sustained on the organ but impossible to sustain that long on a piano. Especially a piano of Beethoven's time. I cheat by playing that note at several opportune, appropriate times to ensure that it can be heard throughout the entire section of music.

I wrote to my best friend from music school recently that not a single measure of the Prelude is as good as any entire piano sonata that Beethoven wrote. Even so, the Prelude is fun to play and is one of the few pieces by Beethoven that is barely within my limited technical ability.
 
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While we're discussing Beethoven's music, I'll wager that very few if any of you have heard his two Preludes for keyboard. n to play and is one of the few pieces by Beethoven that is barely within my technical ability.
I'll have to alert my daughter to these. She teaches a course in music theory at Sweet Briar College.
 
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While we're discussing Beethoven's music, I'll wager that very few if any of you have heard his two Preludes for keyboard. They were composed when he was 19. I just learned about them recently because they are included in a collection of piano preludes, some of which I practice (the more accurate term would be ruin).

I'm currently working on the first prelude, the better one of the two. Both preludes go through all twelve major keys beginning with C Major and in the order of the circle of fifths. Actually, they go through 13 keys because they include C# Major and D-flat Major. I have no idea why anyone would write in C# major for a keyboard instrument considering that the same keys are played regardless of the score's key signature; the key signature in C# Major has seven sharps as opposed to only five flats in D-flat major and with fewer accidentals usually required.

I'm convinced the first Prelude was written for organ, not an instrument that we typically associate with Beethoven. That's because the codetta includes a low note sustained for a long time beneath all the other music going on above it. That note can easily be sustained on the organ but impossible to sustain that long on a piano. Especially a piano of Beethoven's time. I cheat by playing that note at several opportune, appropriate times to ensure that it can be heard throughout the entire section of music.

I wrote to my best friend from music school recently that not a single measure of the Prelude is as good as any entire piano sonata that Beethoven wrote. Even so, the Prelude is fun to play and is one of the few pieces by Beethoven that is barely within my technical ability.
With the prelude, Beethoven was probably channeling JS Bach. Beethoven's teacher in Bonn, Christian Neefe, who was the court organist in Bonn, was from Leipzig and was steeped in Bach's music which was kept alive as a continuing tradition in that city. Neefe had Beethoven playing Bach's Well Tempered Clavier at an early age, and in fact Beethoven learned it by memory in its entirety by the time he was 12. By 1789, when Beethoven was 19, he was employed as Neefe's assistant, and in that capacity he would be playing the organ, which he would have studied extensively along with other keyboard instruments including harpsichord and piano. Your suggestion that the pedal point in the prelude reflects the work's origin as an organ composition is very likely correct. But the idea of writing a prelude that cycled through all the major keys probably came from his early studies of Bach.
 
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With the prelude, Beethoven was probably channeling JS Bach. Beethoven's teacher in Bonn, Christian Neefe, who was the court organist in Bonn, was from Leipzig and was steeped in Bach's music which was kept alive as a continuing tradition in that city. Neefe had Beethoven playing Bach's Well Tempered Clavier at an early age, and in fact Beethoven learned it by memory in its entirety by the time he was 12. By 1789, when Beethoven was 19, he was employed as Neefe's assistant, and in that capacity he would be playing the organ, which he would have studied extensively along with other keyboard instruments including harpsichord and piano. Your suggestion that the pedal point in the prelude reflects the work's origin as an organ composition is very likely correct. But the idea of writing a prelude that cycled through all the major keys probably came from his early studies of Bach.
Sounds like the book you referenced does have some new information.

Part of music lore is that Bach's music was neglected until Felix Mendelssohn rediscovered it in the 1820s. But maybe it just was not very popular at that time.

Yours truly at the Beethoven House in Bonn in 1969:

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Sounds like the book you referenced does have some new information.

Part of music lore is that Bach's music was neglected until Felix Mendelssohn rediscovered it in the 1820s. But maybe it just was not very popular at that time.

Yours truly at the Beethoven House in Bonn in 1969:

Bach's music wasn't performed publicly very much in the decades after his death, but he was legendary. Many of his works were used by musicians to study keyboard performance and composition, though they weren't performed in public concerts. Many of his works circulated in manuscript copies, in an era when engraved and printed music was expensive, and when musicians and composers studied music by copying it (as Bach had done). There was a continuous performing tradition of some of Bach's choral music in Leipzig, and Mozart heard a Bach motet when he visited in 1789. In Vienna in the 1780s and 90s there was a circle of musicians who studied and performed privately the music of Bach and Handel, including Mozart and Haydn. Beethoven was steeped in the Well Tempered Clavier at an early age, and he may well have taken the impulse for his Diabelli Variations from the Goldberg Variations a copy of was in the library of his student, patron and friend Archduke Rudolph. Mendelssohn revived the St. Matthew Passion in 1829, but he didn't rediscover Bach, who had been well known in musical circles all along.
 

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My youngest son is a professional classical pianist (and now going for his Masters in Composition) and has played so many wonderful pieces by Beethoven. His girlfriend is a classical pianist as well. Neither one of us can point to one specific favorite piece. I do love his piano concertos an awful lot though.

My son can trace his "pedigree" through teachers directly back to Beethoven as well, which is pretty cool.

Beethoven > Czerny > Leschetizky > Horszowski > Brown > My son!
 

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This was voted greatest symphony of all time in a poll of 151 conductors

I don't have a favorite but that symphony, called the Eroica, is definitely one of my favorites. A wine made from Riesling and named after that symphony is also a favorite.

View attachment 1675547
I don't have a favorite but that symphony, called the Eroica, is definitely one of my favorites. A wine made from Riesling and named after that symphony is also a favorite.

View attachment 1675547
This was voted the greatest symphony of all time in a BBC Music Magazine poll of 151 conductors from around the world. I can't pick a favorite symphony of his. Impossible for me.
 
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My youngest son is a professional classical pianist (and now going for his Masters in Composition) and has played so many wonderful pieces by Beethoven. His girlfriend is a classical pianist as well. Neither one of us can point to one specific favorite piece. I do love his piano concertos an awful lot though.

My son can trace his "pedigree" through teachers directly back to Beethoven as well, which is pretty cool.

Beethoven > Czerny > Leschetizky > Horszowski > Brown > My son!
That's cool. Does your son specialize in any particular composer's music?
 

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That's cool. Does your son specialize in any particular composer's music?
Jim, he doesn't necessarily specialize in any one composer, but I think he's played more Liszt and Beethoven than any other. If he continued with a pure performance career my bet is that it would be one of those two, or both.

He's now focusing less on performance because of his foray into composition, which makes me very happy. The performance route is insanely competitive and is not an easy life, despite how glamorous it appears. He doesn't possess that characteristic of "needing" to perform all the time that the top people all have. He likes it but doesn't need to do it to feel fulfilled. But he does love composition.
 
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Beethoven > Czerny > Leschetizky > Horszowski > Brown > My son!
That's very cool!

It sounds to me like a life in academia might be a good fit for your son, especially if he is located near a major city. He would have plenty of performance opportunities both on and off campus, while not having to put up with the stress of travel. And he would have soloists and ensembles more readily accessible for the potential of playing his compositions.
 

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That's very cool!

It sounds to me like a life in academia might be a good fit for your son, especially if he is located near a major city. He would have plenty of performance opportunities both on and off campus, while not having to put up with the stress of travel. And he would have soloists and ensembles more readily accessible for the potential of playing his compositions.
Yeah, he's in NYC, so there are a ton of opportunities. He was an adjunct at NYU's Steinhardt School until COVID but will have many avenues open to him with the Masters in Composition too. He's already scored a documentary and is well on his way to much more.
 

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I can similarly trace my academic lineage back to Ludwig Boltzmann who is considered the father of my field of research.
That's really interesting, Jim. I did have to look him up to see who he was but I correctly guessed physicist of some kind before looking. :)
 
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