Monday, October 14, 2013

Fuer Elise Does Not Require Genius

In an on-line discussion about the well-known, often maligned work of Beethoven someone commented that it would take a genius to impart original insight into it.  (That is my rewording of the comment made, I must say, by an invisible person rendered toneless and expression-deprived as only the Internet can render.)  

All that is required is the ability to hear.  The work is brilliantly crafted to blur the boundaries between a black key and a white key so that, at the beginning of the piece, they almost become one tone, like a trill.  Later Beethoven stipulates that they should be clearly articulated in pairs, the black key coming first (unlike the beginning), as if to spell the real, right name of the dedicatee, Therese, not Elise.

Thus: consonant ( = black key) E /  consonant   E /  consonant  E.
Th was one letter in the German of his day, pronounced like our letter T.  D#, spelled enharmonically, is E-flat, which in German is called Ess, the letter S.

Note that the famously difficult B section contains 7 unmatched measures, the number of letters in the name -- if you, for purposes of asymetry, disentangle the T from the h in Th.  Fun, games, a tremendous amount of intimate ingenuity.

I love this piece and play it as what it clearly is, a love message.