Sunday, April 29, 2018

Project 366 - Beethoven Floats My BOAT

Project 366 continues in 2017-18 with "Time capsules through the Musical Eras - A Continued journey through the Western Classical Music Repertoire". Read more here.

Yes, he’s my Best Of All Time.

Today’s installment of Time Capsules completes our look into the Classical period and its principal composers. Beethoven, and to a lesser extent Schubert, can’t be readily thought of as “Late classical” composers, but rather as “transitional” composers, marking the bridge from the formulaic, classical approaches and the more expansive “romantic” school of composition.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

Beethoven was a German pianist and composer whose innovative compositions combined vocals and instruments, widening the scope of sonata, symphony, concerto and quartet. He is the crucial transitional figure connecting the Classical and Romantic ages of Western music. Beethoven’s personal life was marked by a struggle against deafness, and some of his most important works were composed during the last 10 years of his life, when he was quite unable to hear. Beethoven died at age 56.

Much ahs been written about Beethoven’s music, his contemporary and lasting influence and legacy, but the singular storyline about the man, as stated above, was his struggle with deafness. At times driven to extremes of melancholy by his affliction, yet despite his rapidly progressing deafness, Beethoven continued to compose at a furious pace. From 1803 to 1812, what is known as his "middle" or "heroic" period, he composed an opera, six symphonies, four solo concerti, five string quartets, six string sonatas, seven piano sonatas, five sets of piano variations, four overtures, four trios, two sextets and 72 songs. The most famous among these were symphonies No. 3-8, the "Moonlight Sonata," the "Kreutzer" violin sonata and Fidelio, his only opera. In terms of the astonishing output of superlatively complex, original and beautiful music, this period in Beethoven's life is unrivaled by any of any other composer in history.

When Beethoven died, he left (as many other composers) a great many compositions behind. In Beethoven's case, a sizable majority of his works were published. However, some works were not published, and some works were unfinished, either because he had laid them aside, or died before he could finish them. All of Beethoven's compositions up to and including Opus 135 were published in Beethoven's lifetime; later numbers were published posthumously, and are generally denoted by "Op. posth." In 1955, Georg Kinsky and Hans Halm published a catalogue of Beethoven's works, in which they assigned numbers to 205 "Werke ohne Opuszahl" (meaning "works without opus number" in German) to some of Beethoven's unpublished works. These numbers given these works are generally preceded by "WoO".

Your Beethoven Time Capsules

Listener Guide # 174 – Beethoven Sonatas

More than anybody in the late Classical era, Beethoven is the composer responsible for bringing chamber music to the concert hall. Among his chief achievements in the genre we note seventeen string quartets, several trios, ten violin sonatas and five cello sonatas. This listener guide shares three sonatas for instrument with piano accompaniment (ITYWLTMT Montage #202 - 12 jun 2015)

Listener Guide # 175 –Themes and Variations

The piano music of Beethoven is an indispensable part of the repertoire of any serious pianist. Especially appealing are the variations, magnificent compositions second only to the sonatas and concertos in importance, and among the most recorded and performed music in the piano literature. (ITYWLTMT Montage #138 - 10 Jan 2014)


Listener Guide # 176 – Kovacevich & Beethoven

Although Beethoven was far from the first great composer to write multi-movement compositions for solo piano, he was, nonetheless, the first to show how much power and variety of expression could be drawn forth from this single instrument. For composers who came after him, notably, but not exclusively, Brahms, his sonatas became the standard of excellence. This listener Guide features Srephen Kovacevich performing Beethoven last three of 32 sonatas. (ITYWLTMT Montage #198 - 15 May, 2015 )

Listener Guide # 177 – Beethoven’s #1 Montage

Beethoven composed at least six concerti intended for the piano, and this listener guide features his first, along with the first symphony and first overture to his opera Leonore (later renamed Fidelio) (ITYWLTMT Montage # 28 - October 28, 2011)

Listener Guide # 178 – Brautigam & Beethoven

Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigam is our feature soloist in this pair of Beethoven piano concertos: the second and the op. 61a adaptation of the violin concerto. (ITYWLTMT Montage #56 - 25 May, 2012)

Listener Guide # 179 – Serkin & Beethoven

On December 22nd 1808, Beethoven organized a musical academy comcert in Vienna where he premiered three major works – the first of these was his fourth piano concerto, performed in thls Time Capsule by the late Rudolf Serkin. Also featured in this montage, the Hammerklavier sonata. (ITYWLTMT Montage #267 – 22 Dec, 2017)

Listener Guide # 180 –Beethoven Live!

Also premiered on December 22nd 1808, Beethoven’s symphonies no. 5 and 6! This Time Capsule features both of these works recorded in concert, performed by two conducting legends: Wilhelm Furtwangler and Victor de Sabata. (Once Upon the Internet #59 – 26 Dec, 2017)

Listener Guide # 181 – The Creatures of Prometheus

Beethoven’s stage works include overtures and incidental music to at least four plays, his opera Fidelio and this ballet, first performed at Vienna’s Hofburgtheater on 28th March 1801. (Cover2Cover #8 – 10 Apr 2018)

 Listener Guide # 182 – King Stephan and Late Choral Works

This Time Capsule features a cover-to-cover performance of a vintage Michael Tilson Thomas recording of the complete incidental music to the play King Stephan, along with a number of short vocal and choral works, and filler material including a loud surprise!. (ITYWLTMT Montage # 69 - 31 Aug, 2012)

Listener Guide # 183 & 184 – Fidelio (Klemperer, 1962)

Beethoven’s only opera, like many of his epic works, had a long and tortuous gestation, resulting in at least two versions of the opera – an earlier three act version (Leonore) and the later much revised two-act version we know today. This vintage stidio performance features Christa Ludwig and Jon Vickers, with Otto Klemperer conducting (Once or Twice a Forrtnight – 21 Apr 2012)

More Beethoven Listener Guides (From Part 1): 25, 30, 40, 69, 83, 114, 117, 120 & 122