Friday, April 15, 2005

Treasures and Beethoven

Today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen Belsen. This is the camp where Anne Frank died. In her diary, she said that she wanted the world to hear her voice. The fact that she died before she was heard, makes that wish only more poignant.

I am completely predicting Dan Cruikshank tonight, on 80 Treasures Around the World. This episode he's in Turkey, Russia, Poland and Germany.

He was walking from the Zentral Flughafen in ... I forget where, and he began talking about the car commissioned by Adolf Hitler. Isn't it ironic that, having destroyed the Reich, the world went on to embrace one of the greatest icons of the 20th century. The Volkswagen Beetle of course. Designed by Mr Porsche. More icons follow eh?
Dan also visited the Bauhaus, closed down by the Nazis. Another irony, the Bauhaus in its revolutionary ultra-modern designs. All our institutional chairs and much more in furniture design that we take for granted was designed by Mies van der Rohe and his lot.

I forgot the point I was getting to before that.........HOw about another quote from A Room with a View.
Lucy wanted to go on the tram - alone - after playing the piano at the pension. Mr Beebe and Miss Allan disapproved, saying it would be more appropriate if she went for a walk.
"Italians, dear, you know," said Miss Alan.
"Perhaps I shall meet someone who reads me through and through!"
So Lucy concedes that she would go for a little walk on the safe tourist streets.
"She oughtn't really to go at all," said Mr Beebe as they watched her from the window, "and she knows it. I put it down to too much Beethoven."

I agree. Beethoven is dangerous. Those of you who know me know I looooove Beethoven, and that I like to reiterate that good girls of the 19th century were not allowed to listen to his music because it would evoke emotions they were not allowed to feel (i.e. stir the passions, and good girls weren't allowed to experience passion!)
Lucy Honeychurch is a good Edwardian girl pushing against the restrictions of her upper middle-class society. There has been social progress: she is allowed to play Beethoven. But her bouts of freedom are blamed on Beethoven.

Mozart was my first more innocent love, and I have those moments when I hear his music and my soul breathes a sigh of relief, and I can laugh at his musical jokes. But Beethoven is my later more passionate love, for when I want to hear Beethoven it's a sort of yearning. His music comes from deep within, and he is sharing that with us.
Music is powerful because the composer is imparting himself to us, sharing his state of mind.

"You ask me where I get my ideas. That I cannot tell you with certainty. They come unsummoned, directly, indirectly — I could seize them with my hands — out in the open air, in the woods, while walking, in the silence of the nights, at dawn, excited by moods which are translated by the poet into words, by me into tones that sound and roar and storm about me till I have set them down in notes."
Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1824

I won't even begin to quote from his letter to his angel, his all, his other self....

Beethoven composed as one of the early Romantics. Mozart preceded him a little bit (d. 1791), perhaps paving the way for the Romantic movement. Poets, writers, composers, artists.
I was browsing through the Lebrecht art library, for familiarity, typed in a few composers and came across a lithograph of the young Beethoven playing in the Mozarts' drawing room. Beethoven did at one time ask Mozart to tutor him, something Wolfie hated doing, but after listening to him at the klavier, did comment that here was one young man the world would keep its eye on.
On hearing Beethoven, Haydn also commented that music would never be the same.

While Mozart was employed as part of a household and composed on demand (a situation he continually rebelled against), Beethoven was essentially freelance, supported by patrons who didn't always commission works, but gave him the freedom to pursue his own inspirations. Listening to some of Beethoven's sounds, it is hard to believe they were composed two centuries ago. There is something impressionistic about them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have an amazing way of describing things. I did not know much about mozart or beethoven until i met you. Now, i cannot live without them. but i must admit that sometimes i struggle to tell them apart.