Saturday December 12, 2020 Smile of the Day: Ludwig van Beethoven
On this Day:
In Vienna, Ludwig van Beethoven (age 22) receives his 1st lesson in music composition from Franz Joseph Haydn.
Ludwig van Beethoven German: baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827 was a German composer and pianist whose music ranks amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire; he remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music.
Born in Bonn, Beethoven’s musical talent was obvious at an early age, and he was initially harshly and intensively taught by his father Johann van Beethoven. He found relief from a dysfunctional home life with the family of Helene von Breuning, whose children he loved, befriended, and taught piano. At age 21, he moved to Vienna, which subsequently became his base, and studied composition with Haydn. Beethoven then gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist.
His works span the transition from the classical period to the romantic era in classical music. His career has conventionally been divided into early, middle, and late periods. The “early” period, during which he forged his craft, is typically considered to have lasted until 1802. From 1802 to around 1812, his “middle” period showed an individual development from the “classical” styles of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and is sometimes characterized as “heroic.” During this time he began to suffer increasingly from deafness. In his “late” period from 1812 to his death in 1827, he extended his innovations in musical form and expression.
The Beethoven Monument in Bonn was unveiled in August 1845, in honour of the 75th anniversary of his birth. It was the first statue of a composer created in Germany, and the music festival that accompanied the unveiling was the impetus for the very hasty construction of the original Beethovenhalle in Bonn (it was designed and built within less than a month, on the urging of Franz Liszt). A statue to Mozart had been unveiled in Salzburg, Austria, in 1842. Vienna did not honour Beethoven with a statue until 1880.
There is a museum, the Beethoven House, the place of his birth, in central Bonn. The same city has hosted a musical festival, the Beethovenfest, since 1845. The festival was initially irregular but has been organised annually since 2007.
The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies serves as a museum, research center, and host of lectures and performances devoted solely to this life and works.
His music features twice on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of the images, common sounds, languages, and music of Earth, sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.
The third largest crater on Mercury is named in his honour, as is the main-belt asteroid 1815 Beethoven.
A 7-foot cast bronze statue of Beethoven by sculptor Arnold Foerster was installed in 1932 in Pershing Square, Los Angeles; it was dedicated to William Andrews Clark Jr., founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
A symphony was performing Beethoven’s Ninth.
In the piece there’s a long passage that’s about 20 minutes during which the double bassists have nothing to do. Rather than sit around the whole time, some bassists decided to sneak offstage and go to the bar next door for a quick one. After drinking many beers one of them looked at his watch and said “Hey we need to get back!”
“No need to panic,” said another bassist, “I thought we might need some extra time, so I tied the last couple pages of the conductor’s score together with string. It’ll take him a few minutes to get untangled.” A few moments later they get back to the concert hall and take their places in the orchestra. About this time a member of the audience saw that the conductor seemed a bit edgy and said as much to her companion. “Well of course,” said her companion. “Don’t you see? It’s the bottom of the Ninth, the score is tied, and the bassists are loaded.”
Second, a Song:
Lang Lang (Chinese: 郎朗; pinyin: Láng Lǎng; born 14 June 1982) is a Chinese concert pianist who has performed with leading orchestras in China, the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. Active since the 1990s, he was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and some top American orchestras. A Chicago Tribune music critic called him “the biggest, most exciting young keyboard talent I have encountered in many a year of attending piano recitals”. Lang is considered by many as one of the most famous and accomplished classical musicians of modern time.
Lang Lang has received many awards and made many television appearances. His DG recording of Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 4 with Christoph Eschenbach was nominated for a Grammy Award during the year of its release.
He appeared in Time magazine’s 2009 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and in Gramophone magazine’s Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2008, the Recording Academy named him their Cultural Ambassador to China. More recently, Lang has been chosen as an official worldwide ambassador to the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Lang was appointed by the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as an International Goodwill Ambassador in 2004. The Chinese government selected him as a vice-president of the All-China Youth Federation.
The Financial Times reported that Lang is “evangelical in his efforts to spread the popularity of classical music.” In October 2008, he launched the Lang International Music Foundation in New York with the support of the Grammys and UNICEF (per Wikipedia).
Here is Lang Lang performing Beethoven’s Fur Elise on the Lang Lang Steinway Black Diamond Limited Edition Grand Piano. I love this version for its tempo – Lang Lang provides an inspirational, moving interpretation of this wonderful piece by Beethoven. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“In science, if you don’t do it, somebody else will. Whereas in art, if Beethoven didn’t compose the ‘Ninth Symphony,’ no one else before or after is going to compose the ‘Ninth Symphony’ that he composed; no one else is going to paint ‘Starry Night’ by van Gogh.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Andrea Cannavina in New York drew my attention to the Canadian Dance Moves video on YouTube. Yesterday’s song by Toronto artist Gunnarolla “Canadian Please” was remade to dance moves by Van46. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_-MsDSAW0Y&feature=youtu.be).
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2020 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky