Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Not "Compete" with Beethoven Himself?

Naturally that is an absurd proposition.  But think about it: anyone who takes Beethoven's music seriously enough to go to the trouble to study it is, to a degree, competing with him.  It is not too hard to imagine, given his incredible sense of humor, that he (like Haydn and like Mozart) is usually engaging the player in a kind of game:  Do you get this?  Have I succeeded in keeping the secret so hidden that you still haven't figured out what makes this piece interesting?

The 19th century did Beethoven a great disservice in characterizing him and his music as heroic--another grand cliche from which we have not yet recovered.

Wouldn't it be more stylistically correct to assume wit than heroism and to take the long view of his piano sonatas, for example:  Okay, you can play the notes reasonably accurately, so now what?

That "now what" can take a lifetime to figure out.  But every minute devoted to the pursuit will be a minute well spent.

Now the question is how to get the poor piano student still reeling under the weight of "heroism" to come listen to a more humanistic Beethoven....