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Beethoven and "inevitability"

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Old 14-11-11, 12:44 PM
Tarantella Tarantella is offline
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Default Beethoven and "inevitability"

I love listening to Leonard Bernstein's original ideas about music, particularly his comments about Beethoven. He is somewhat controversial in this link because he suggests Beethoven was not good at melody, harmony, fugue, tone painting or orchestration - as separate aspects of music. Take a listen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HHIb...eature=related

(I was nearly distracted by the presence of the delectable Max Schell!!)
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Old 14-11-11, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Tarantella View Post
I love listening to Leonard Bernstein's original ideas about music, particularly his comments about Beethoven. He is somewhat controversial in this link because he suggests Beethoven was not good at melody, harmony, fugue, tone painting or orchestration - as separate aspects of music. Take a listen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HHIb...eature=related

(I was nearly distracted by the presence of the delectable Max Schell!!)




I think Max Schell looks underwhelmed and totally bored.

Beethoven's 7th symphony is the one I least like. In fact , I hate it!
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Old 19-11-11, 09:15 AM
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Well, I guess Max Schell couldn't get a word in edge-wise with the voluble Bernstein. This isn't the same as boredom, though, is it?

I'm sorry that you HATE the 7th Symphony - such a strong word. You know, I don't think I HATE anything - except the idea of a terminal illness, war or natural calamity. I certainly wouldn't use the word 'hate' within any proximity of music. Sad.
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Old 19-11-11, 02:40 PM
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If I may....

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Originally Posted by Tarantella View Post
Beethoven was not good at melody,
Arguably correct.... with some notable exceptions.

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Originally Posted by Tarantella View Post
harmony,
Let's not confuse being good at something with being diverse. Beethoven just used the same sorts of progressions over and over again, because they work.

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Originally Posted by Tarantella View Post
fugue,
Again, correct... with really one notable exception, but even that wouldn't be considered "a good fugue", it's just really good music (I mean the op. 133 "Grosse Fuge", of course)

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Originally Posted by Tarantella View Post
tone painting or orchestration
Both true, but not really his fault, if you ask me. Tone Painting was one of those things which had fallen out of fashion by his time, and had not fallen back into fashion yet. Since he wrote so much music specifically for profit and publication, it isn't really something that we can hold against him. Does he do it in his major artistic works? Yes. Does he do it in, for example, the op. 105 flute and piano variations? Next question, please.

Orchestration, IMO, is a legitimate complaint, though, and goes back to the melodic writing. The example that is always talked about is the use of Bassoons in the recapitulation of the B theme from Sym No. 5, where Horns had been used previously. Had he written in a more horn friendly key, the change would not have been necessary. But again, this can't really be held against him, since in this aspect he was still very much a Classicist, not a Romantic. And he was at the mercy of non-transposing brass instruments; they were crooked to change keys, which is why you see so many Trumpet in D and Horn in A parts from back then.

That being said, he was the first one to use trombones, soloists, and chorus in a symphony, and he contributed GREATLY to the expansion of the piano to our modern instrument, so he wasn't a complete nincompoop either.
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Old 21-11-11, 10:29 AM
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IMHO Bernstein isn't far off, not as tactful as he could be, but he does leave you with a very clear picture of what he's trying to say Beethoven's music "had" that others didn't. And his intentions, although seemingly brash by their presentation, are quite praisworthy.

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That being said, he was the first one to use trombones, soloists, and chorus in a symphony, and he contributed GREATLY to the expansion of the piano to our modern instrument, so he wasn't a complete nincompoop either.
Beethoven's Piano Trios and Quartets as well as the String Quartets ... some of the best chamber music ever written IMHO. Beethoven definitely set the bar higher in a lot of areas. Pathetique Sonata was one of the first if not the first piano sonata to start with a slow movement moving to an allegro as the first movement.
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Old 21-11-11, 10:57 AM
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Beethoven's Piano Trios and Quartets as well as the String Quartets ... some of the best chamber music ever written IMHO. Beethoven definitely set the bar higher in a lot of areas.
No argument, but I was talking about orchestration specifically there. I think that his middle period genius is underplayed, in some regards, because there is so much stock put into his late works.

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Pathetique Sonata was one of the first if not the first piano sonata to start with a slow movement moving to an allegro as the first movement.
That is based on the baroque styled French Overture, which by that point had been around for close to 100 years. The distinction between it at the baroque overture is that instead of being followed by a fugue, it's followed by sonata form.

Last edited by marquis66; 21-11-11 at 11:01 AM. Reason: Coffee before reading more...
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Old 21-11-11, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Tarantella View Post
Well, I guess Max Schell couldn't get a word in edge-wise with the voluble Bernstein. This isn't the same as boredom, though, is it?

I'm sorry that you HATE the 7th Symphony - such a strong word. You know, I don't think I HATE anything - except the idea of a terminal illness, war or natural calamity. I certainly wouldn't use the word 'hate' within any proximity of music. Sad.
I rarely use the word 'hate' myself. Perhaps I should have said, that I really dislike Beethoven's 7th.
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Old 21-11-11, 07:28 PM
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No argument, but I was talking about orchestration specifically there.
Yeah, this was a failed attempt to add to your statement that "he wasn't a complete nincompoop either" by calling attention to a couple of his non-orchestrational innovations and contributions. Will try to be clearer with quoting and explanation in the future.

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I think that his middle period genius is underplayed, in some regards, because there is so much stock put into his late works.
Definitely, maybe even taken for granted at times. Beethoven seems to have become quite synonymous with symphonic writing and piano sonatas, it can make it easy to look past that he made a lot of contributions in other compositional realms (i.e. chamber music).

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Originally Posted by marquis66 View Post
That is based on the baroque styled French Overture, which by that point had been around for close to 100 years. The distinction between it at the baroque overture is that instead of being followed by a fugue, it's followed by sonata form.
Thanks marquis, I remembered there was more to it...you nailed it on the head.

Last edited by Neumerologist; 21-11-11 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 22-11-11, 11:58 AM
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Will try to be clearer with quoting and explanation in the future.
Ahhh, OK. I see where you are going then.

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Originally Posted by Neumerologist View Post
Definitely, maybe even taken for granted at times. Beethoven seems to have become quite synonymous with symphonic writing and piano sonatas, it can make it easy to look past that he made a lot of contributions in other compositional realms (i.e. chamber music).
Well, with good reason... for one his sonatas were always lab pieces for this symphonic writing, according to writers like Drabkin. And when you have pieces like the Third, Fifth, Seventh and Ninth Symphonies in your catalog... well, let's just say that as a composer I would welcome such type casting!

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Thanks marquis, I remembered there was more to it...you nailed it on the head.
It's a connection that I am surprised that most people don't see, to be honest. I think that so many people are in the Beethoven-as-romanticist mindset that they sort of gloss over his roots as a classicist. It's one of those things that once you see it, you can't unsee it though. The form is everywhere. Persichetti Wind Symphony, which the USM concert band played this weekend? There it is! Mahler 1? There it is (sort of)! Hundreds of pieces by dozens of composers.
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Old 22-11-11, 07:10 PM
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It's a connection that I am surprised that most people don't see, to be honest. I think that so many people are in the Beethoven-as-romanticist mindset that they sort of gloss over his roots as a classicist.
There's even the Beethoven quote: "Handel was the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head, and kneel before his tomb."
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