Saturday, January 10, 2015

Beethoven's Second Symphony vs. the Piano

I laughed out loud more than once listening to this hilarious work on the radio last night.  As its incredibly inventive orchestration bumped my ear from one orchestral section to another at times with startling percussion punctuation, I became aware of how much sound imagination is required to enjoy Beethoven's piano writing.

He refers constantly to sounds of his time and of his culture, as does every other composer of the time.  But do we learn to call a yodel by its true name?  or a rustic country instrument, the equivalent of the modern country twang that, to my surprise, has become so "in"?

Piano students are encouraged to stay within the recognizable borders of printed note values with their predictable accents, not to notice, as one nine-year-old did in my studio one day, that the music was "boring."  It was Beethoven, by the way.  How could this be? I wondered and went into it.  Sure enough, the child was right. Ludwig v. B. was quoting a boring style of music, associated with heavy boots and stamping accents, perhaps set in motion by "a touch too much" of inebriation.