Beethoven

I’m scheduled next Friday to attend a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. So I dug out the score and began listening to my recordings of the work and was reminded all over again of why Beethoven is not my favorite composer.

I’m a trained musician with a BA in Music from the University of California, Berkeley. My taste in music runs to the intellectual or analytical, not to the emotional. As a result, my two favorite composers are Bach and Mozart. That said, I am not immune emotional music on subjects that move me deeply. So one of my favorite Mozart works is arguably his most emotional piece, his unfinished Requiem, a mass for the dead written while he was dying. And two of my favorite pieces of music are by Gustave Mahler, a very emotional composer. They are his song cycle Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) and Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children).

Beethoven wrote at the end of the Classical period of music, dominated by Mozart and Händel, and initiated the Romantic period, which lasted until the twentieth century. During Beethoven’s life—and largely due to his influence—musical preference shifted from the intellectual to the emotional, away from my liking. And while Beethoven gave at least lip service to the forms created during the Classical period (especially the sonata form), emotions took the fore.

More next time.

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