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"I am that which is. I am all that was, that is, and that shall be. No mortal man has ever lifted the veil of me. He is solely of himself, and to this Only One all things owe their existence."

"Bonaparte Before the Sphinx"

The quote at the very top, not by Beethoven but in Beethoven's handwriting, was pasted into a frame, covered with glass, and kept in a prominent place on Beethoven's desk.  Before we get to the music today, I'd like to explore how it got there and what it meant to Beethoven and to the Ninth Symphony.  In the process, I get to take you on one of the roundabout connect-the-dot journeys that I so love doing.  I'll try to be entertaining and to not waste your time.

(The first two movements are covered here (part 1) and here (part 2). )

A Special Note:   Last week, Kerry Candaele, writer and director of the not yet released film Following the Ninth, which I've quoted in this series, dropped us a late note in the comments:
Beethoven 9 Film (2+ / 0-)

Wonderful articles, and thank you for mentioning my film, Following The Ninth. Hope to release it in the next month or so. I live in Venice if you ever want to talk Beethoven. Best, kerry candaele

by kcandaele on Mon Jan 09, 2012 at 10:19:09 PM PST

The website for the film, which includes preview clips and a donation link, is  .  One of the things her film focuses on that I've also found interesting is the political implications of Beethoven's Ninth.

The Ninth Symphony is the only Late Period symphony composed by Beethoven.  One of the distinguishing marks of this period of Beethoven's output is a creative turn towards the mystical and divine.  Thanksgiving 2010, I wrote a diary covering Beethoven's Hymn Giving Thanks to the Deity, the title he gave to one of his most famous string quartet pieces, the third movement of his String Quartet #15, from the same period.  (The Ode to Joy and the String Quartet #15 have overlap in their genesis timeframe, and music from the two were sometimes swapped during development.)  Beethoven was deeply religious -- in his own way -- well before his Late Period, but by the Late Period, it became more overt in his musical style.

Let's connect all this to Napoleon, now, shall we?

As most know, Beethoven had a big beef with Napoleon, whom he admired at first as a wind of change bringing democracy to Europe.  In 1804, Beethoven dedicated his Third Symphony to Napoleon, only to rip off the cover in disgust and rename it the Eroica when the news came that Napoleon had declared himself Emperor.  

Napoleon had been rolling his army around the world, toting up French victories.  In 1798, he launched the Egyptian Campaign, capturing Egypt, with the goal of fouling the British and Indian trade routes.  Thus the famous painting at the top.

Ah, the mystery of the Sphinx!  And the mystery of the Sphinx's nose!  The perhaps apocryphal story goes that some of Napoleon's soldiers shot the nose off the Sphinx on a wager.  If so, I hope the winner got something worthwhile.  However, the French weren't without curiosity about the ancient fruits of their conquest: Ancient temples, pyramids, thrones, most of them decorated with indecipherable hieroglyphics.  The ability to understand this Egyptian writing had been lost for many centuries.  Nobody knew what all those funny birds and jackals were trying to say!

And then one day, one of Napoleon's troops, bumbling around, possibly looking for more millenia-old inanimate objects to shoot, came across a curious thing that would be called The Rosetta Stone.  It contained a two thousand year old press release by an Egyptian ruler, Ptolemy V, much of it in the usual birds and jackals hieroglyphics.  The reason reason anybody knew what it said was that part of it was also written in ancient Greek, a non-pictorial alphabet that modern Europeans understood.  Having the same press release written in three different alphabets meant that there was finally a translation tool.  

It took about twenty years to work out the details, but the decipherment of the writing on ancient Egyptian tombs quickly became the hot new thing.  One of the pioneers in this was a fellow by the name of Champollion, who in 1820 published The Paintings of Egypt, which included translations from the walls and pillars of the Temple of Isis in Philae.

One image from the walls of Temple of Isis Philae.

Champollion translated one inscription, written of the Goddess Neith, "I am that which is. I am all that was, that is, and that
shall be. No mortal man has ever lifted the veil of me. He is
solely of himself, and to this Only One all things owe their existence."  Champollion's book was a hit with both scientists and the coffee table book of the month club.  We can assume Beethoven, being a musician and not a scientist, was one of the latter.

The European Enlightenment period, with its rejection of old dogma, had wrought a change in religion, one of which was a broadening of the acceptable definitions of God.  Enlightenment free thinkers had no problem both rejecting mass religion, as Beethoven (generally) did, and in embracing aspects of the "oriental" religions.  

One of the clearest expressions of this, representative of the deist thinkers of the late 18th century, is this one by Thomas Paine, from the Age of Reason:

It is only in the CREATION that all the ideas and concepts of the word of God can come together. The Creation speaks a universal language that does not depend on any human speech or language. It is an eternal 'original copy' that all men can read. It cannot be faked or counterfeited. It cannot be lost or changed. It cannot be kept secret. It does not depend on man deciding whether to publish it or not. It publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all the nations, and all the worlds. This natural word of God reveals to us all that man needs to know of God.
Do we want to think of his power? We see it in the vastness of the Creation. Do we want to think of his wisdom? We see it in the unchanging order of the universe. Do we want to see his generosity? We see it in the abundance that fills the earth. Do we want to think of his mercy? We see it in the way he does not withhold abundance even from the ungrateful. In fact, do we want to know what God is? Do not look in the bible (that any man could have written), but look instead to the Creation.

Usually, when we get into discussions on DailyKos about deism, pantheism, or pan Pandeism, it is in a discussion refuting the claims of the Religious Right that the Founding Fathers were all Christian, when the record is that they weren't, that many of the key figures, like Washington and Jefferson and Franklin (and, later Lincoln), were deists or pantheists in the mold of Paine.  Again, here, we see this affinity of thought between Beethoven and the philosophy of Revolution.  

The distinction between deism and pantheism seems rather vague to me, although I suspect it matters a great deal at the theology course level.  Deism sees the creator as defined by his visible creation.  Pantheism defines everything, all of Creation itself, as the one God.  The quotes from the Temple of Neith come closer to the pantheistic view and what seems to have been Beethoven's view, Beethoven as part of God, part of Creation.  

From Beethoven's notebook, here is a passage he had apparently apparently admired to enough to copy in his own hand from a book:

God is immaterial; as he is invisible he can therefore have no form. But from what we are able to see in His Works we conclude that he is eternal, almighty, omniscient and omnipresent. The mighty one alone is free from all desire and passion. There is no greater than He, Brahm: his mind is self-existent. He, the Almighty, is present in every part of space. His omniscience is self-inspired, and His conception includes every other. Omniscience is the greatest of his all-embracing attributes. O God! - you have no threefold being and are independent of everything, you are the true, eternal, blessed, unchangeable light of all time and space. Your wisdom apprehends thousands of laws, but you always act of your own free will and to your honour. You were before everything that we worship. We owe you praise and adoration. You alone are the true Blessed, the best of all laws, the image of all wisdom. You are present throughout the whole world and sustain all things. Sun, Ether, Brahma.

The third movement of Beethoven's Ninth symphony and the finale, like many of Beethoven's Late Period works, is infused with this pantheistic sense of the divine.  While his first movement had been about chaos and agony, Beethoven is now ready to begin raising us up to a more divine sphere.  

Friedrich Nietzsche describes this aspect of listening to Beethoven's Ninth in Human, All Too Human:

At a certain place in Beethoven`s Ninth Symphony... [the listener] might feel that he is floating above the earth in a starry dome, with the dream of immortality in his heart; all the stars seem to glimmer around him, and the earth seems to sink ever deeper downwards.

I liked the way the film Immortal Beloved captured this feeling.  I've posted this one before.  This is Beethoven at the premiere of the Ninth, recalling his abusive childhood.

Scene from Immortal Beloved

We see Beethoven, at the premiere of the Ninth Symphony, recalling his childhood, as the music plays in his head.  (In his head, because, of course, he was stone deaf by that time).  We see the young boy Beethoven, fleeing from his abusive cane-bearing father, running through the streets, and then the woods, stripping off his clothes.  As the central fugue of the finale reaches its climax, the intrusion of the EA-AE-EA motif, the boy discovers a pond of still water.  He lowers himself into the water and floats, face up, in the pose of Leonardo's Vitrugian Man.  As the camera recedes, we see many pinpoints of light (not necessarily visible in my clip) the stars, reflected in the water.  They glimmer around him as he rotates iand floats in the starry dome and the earth seems to recede.  Friedrich Nietzsche could have designed this scene himself.

The Vitrugian Man, from the notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci.  A representation of classic mathematical ratios inherent in the ideal human form.

Heavy shit, eh?  It was a roundabout journey.  Have I entertained you?  Did I waste your time?


This is the third of four diaries planned for the Beethoven Ninth Symphony.  The first two movements are covered here (part 1) and here (part 2).  

Let's review how we got here.  The symphony began in violence and terror.  The first movement of the Ninth is the most violent symphonic piece Beethoven ever composed.  The second movement, still dark, but a step closer to the light, gave us increased order, and a central section that touched briefly on the angelic.

The third movement is the angelic one.  I've searched for a better word to use in the thesaurus and come up short.  The only other word I like to describe it is reverent.  After the harsh but beautiful journey we have experienced, Beethoven is ready to begin raising us to a more divine sphere.  The mood is a soothing one, as if being immersed in a warm bath after a long journey.  If it should make you sleepy, though, beware, because there is a dramatic bite to it, in the latter third, one that compels your respect and attention and reminds you how far you have come and have yet to go.  As usual, it's the EA-AE-EA motif that opened the symphony that comes to us at these key moments to demand our respect.

Let's go back to my Spoiler's Clip that I prepared with the first diary to track some ways the EA-AE-EA motif, the building block of the symphony, gets used:

Dumbo's SPOILERS clip for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

Beginning at 0:33, we have the main theme of the third movement.  I thought I heard the EA-AE-EA theme in the bass, but I'm not so sure now, so I'm going to leave that open to debate.  However, the next example at 0:56, from later in the third movement, is glaringly obvious.  It's EA-AE-EA again (in a different key now), but whereas in its original form, it walked downhill, now it walks uphill.  This is the climactic moment of the third movement, a shocker, probably the moment that most stuck with me after hearing The Ninth the first time because it came so unexpectedly... Well, now it's not unexpected, is it?  The sense of relaxation that this movement can create leaves you unprepared for this powerful moment.  Making it all the more powerful.

The overall form of the movement is familiar: Variations on a Theme.  The theme in this case is apparently simple.  The analysis texts I read online before writing this generally break it up into two parts, but I don't see the need for that.  The first half, though, is harmonically VERY simple in its basic form.  I-V-I-V-...I, it goes.  The closest thing to it, I can think of, is Goodbye Ol' Paint, which we all sang in school.  Two chords!  But as the music proceeds, Beethoven further elaborates on those chords, above, below, and all around them.

The harmonic tension really comes BETWEEN the variations.  Each variation is smooth and stable harmonically, hugging the home chord tightly.  It's in the transitions between the variations that Beethoven plays his best tricks, ratcheting up the tension by changing keys with what are called suspensions, (chords with notes that linger too long before dropping into place).

There's also a funny thing going on between the strings and woodwinds in this movement, one of the first things people notice about it.  Every once in a while, the strings pause and allow the woodwinds to catch up and echo the last part of what they were playing.  This pattern continues through every variation.

I'm going to take a risk today and go with the old 1951 Bayreuth live recording conducted by Wilhelm Furtwangler.  The audio quality is relatively poor and it's mono and the microphones are unbalanced.  There are better quality audio clips on Youtube I could use, but the conducting in this one is unearthly.  Furtwangler was an eccentric and romantic conductor, and never more so than when conducting the Ninth.  Remember that Sony-Phillips designed the first music CD to hold 74 minutes of music SPECIFICALLY so it would be long enough for Furtwangler's famous recording.

The Symphony #9 in D minor, Opus 125, by Ludwig Van Beethoven, third movement, Adagio.  Wilhelm Furtwangler and the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, live, 1951.  (Clip 1 of 2.)

Introduction (0:00)

The woodwinds introduce themselves, one at a time, as if reporting for duty.  The effect is of a flower opening.  All of it very mellow, but there's a slight growl in the bass there, at the end.

First Theme (0:23)
The strings introduce the main theme.  At 0:53, we have our first "echo" from the woodwinds, as the strings pause to let them catch up.  Again at 1:30.  You might notice how similar the theme is to the Adagio from Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata.

And then, at 2:00, just when you're getting used to the gentle two-chord cradling back and forth, aha!  We finally get a new chord (IV chord).  Such a little thing, but it has been made precious through the waiting!  Here we feel not just love but yearning.  We are in a different emotional place now than we were in the previous movements.

At 2:23, the woodwinds echo the strings again, echoing that beautiful D major chord again.  And then they begin to taper away.  At 2:58 we say goodbye to this variation and this key (it was B flat) and begin the transition to the new key (D major.)

We have spent three minutes listening to the first main variation of the movement.  

Second Variation on the Theme (3:00)

The tempo speeds up a little.  The violas carry the theme now in a deeper voice, the music swelling and subsiding with increased emotion and vigor.  At 3:56, as the violas repeat, the higher violins come in now and add a soaring theme atop this one.  Again, the feeling is of strong yearning.

At 4:30, the strings subside.  The woodwinds come in to echo, and in their echoing, they set us up for another slow, key transition.  (B flat).

Third Variation on the Theme (4:50)

The main theme yet again, but now with more ornamentation, as the long slow notes of the original theme are broken into many shorter notes.  In the background, we hear plucked strings in a waltz.  (This is called playing pizzicato.  Plucking of the strings with the fingers creates a raindrop-like sound.)

So.  Beautiful.

At 6:50, the woodwinds get to make their last echo of the variation.  And then they set us up for the change to the next key (G major).  This is a distant key from B flat.  The transitions are getting spookier and deeper.

Fourth Variation on the Theme (7:40)

The woodwinds get to lead the time, with echoes from the strings.  At 8:21, plucked strings join, too.  At 8:59, they begin the transition together to another distant key (E flat).

Fifth Variation on the Theme (9:12)

It has all been so tranquil up until now that, yes, you could fall asleep in your concert chair.  This next variation, though, is strange and a little spooky.  It is also the most beautiful variation in the movement, and perhaps the most complicated.

We have broken though into a new territory.  The woodwinds star this time, but they sound very lonely and forlorn.  The strings have abandoned them.  Yes, there are occasional plucked strings to give them company, but it's not the same thing.  The mood is depressed and introspective.  The bassoon part, and the plucked strings, have a broken quality to them, with strange gaps in the phrasing.  At 9:50, the woodwinds dip into minor key territory briefly, the first time we have experienced that in this movement.

This is a terrible place to have to break up the music, so I beg your forbearance as we all switch to the continuation in second clip.

Beethoven Ninth Symphony, third movement, (clip 2 of 2)

... And just as we were dipping into minor key territory, beginning to worry us, at 0:06, the flutes come in bringing new hope.  This variation constitutes, to me, a kind of moral trial.

At 0:35, the plucked strings and a solo French horn give us the final echo, and the transition to the new key, B flat -- the original home key of the movement.  And the return comes with an enormous sense of relief.  A weight of some kind has been lifted.  

Sixth Variation on the Theme (0:56)

Back in the home key... And the violins are back, carrying the main theme again!  This time, massively more ornamented with many faster notes.  The plucked strings have tagged along with us from the last two variations into this one.  The woodwinds are back in their comfortable role of echo-ers, sane and stable in comparison to the leaping violins.

The violins disappear at 3:06, allowing the woodwinds and plucked strings to carry on, and they do, quite honorably.  

The music is tranquil and reassuring at this point, cradling us back and forth between I and V chords, like New Age music.  We might expect, if things follow their usual pattern, to be teed up for the next variation about now.  But there's a surprise.

First (Mini-)Climax (3:55)

As the woodwinds cradle us, a sudden very masculine outburst from the brass.  It's EA-AE-EA again!  Dum-dum-DUMMMM!... And then a less strong response response from the strings.  Dum-dum-DUMMM! again...  Strings respond again.  And now a bold, insistent declaration from the brass and the drums!  

This is not tranquil!  This is not reassuring!  This is not New-Agey cradling behavior!

In a live concert, or even a good quality stereo, this moment can be shocking, out of character as it is to what has gone before.

At 4:17, the brass and the drums relent, and the gentle strings return.  They seem taken aback, reacting to what has happened.  But very quickly, they are cradling us again, with their beautiful I and V chords.  "Don't let those nasty horn guys get to you," they seem to say.  "Where were we?  Let's nuzzle some more."  Even the plucked strings are back.  

I get the feeling this might be a good place to end the movement, with this happy ending.  Rocking us like a baby as the strings SOAR in their ornamentation!  

But then...

Second (Real) Climax (5:13)

Dum-dum-DUMMMM!  It's back!  Just like before.  Dum-dum-DUMMM!!  It will go away again, won't it?  Won't it?  

And then at 5:30, it's like a great chasm opens before us.  What do we see here?  This is the enigma of the movement.  

Whatever it was that was so insistent on our attention got it, in the end.  And it was very serious about it and not to be
ignored nor condescended to.

(Of course, this is all my interpretation of the third movement.  You're all entitled to tell me what it really means.)

The reaction of the strings to the climax this time is subdued and serious.  They don't just blow it off.  

Sixth Variation on the Theme CONTINUES (6:05)

The strings and the plucked strings continue their theme as before, but with more due gravity, and I think we should give credit to the conductor for pulling that off and bringing it to life so well.  I started to label this the Seventh Variation, and then I realized, it's just finishing what was interrupted.  

Seventh Variation on the Theme (6:23) (or just more Sixth)

Without the woodwind echo, we enter a new variation, and it gives the vibe that we're heading towards a conclusion soon.  Notice the change in gravity.  The music is still soothing, but it doesn't soar as high.

At 7:32, after much I-V-I-V... cradling, the strings, with a sudden shout (a sforzando) seem to call for the end of proceedings.  

Eighth Variation on the Theme (7:45)

It seems to be saying goodbye.  Oh so sweetly done.

Coda (8:10)

Not really a variation.  Just the graceful ending to a graceful movement.  Listen to how softly the very final chords come at 9:20.  Softly.  Gently.  Ending peacefully.  That's very important.

Beethoven left no instructions for a pause between the Third and Fourth movement.  But I think, in practice, they almost always have one because there are large choral forces on stage that have been standing still for almost an hour.

Next week we'll hear the final movement, the Ode to Joy from the Beethoven Symphony #9.  Richard Wagner called the first chords of the final movement, "The Terror Fanfare."  We had a one movement respite from (most of) the violence that Beethoven could throw at us.  The finale will remind us of that right away.  

Those soft, gentle, peacefully ending chords of the third movement were the only segue you were to get.  The contrast between gentleness and brutality being set up here is intentional.  

See you next week!


Since the photoshop I made last week of Beethoven smiling was so scary, I decided to try one more time.  I took this picture and added a smile to it.  The biggest smile I could find in google image search for a man smiling was...  well, it was Tom Delay's mugshot.  No, I didn't plan it that way.  Anyway, I gave Beethoven Tom Delay's big smile, and it came out like this.

Unfortunately, it's still impossible to find a decent picture of Beethoven smiling. I guess it's because the man never smiled.  Maybe he had big gross green teeth, or no teeth at all.  Or worse still, just one big tooth.  However it may be, it's unfortunate, because as soon as I posted last week's diary, googling in image search for "Beethoven smile" showed my poorly crafted Photoshop as the first image that came up.  Seriously -- it was almost instantaneous.  

Obviously, then, I've done great damage to Beethoven's reputation, and probably am doing even more by posting this.  I therefore challenge you all to offer up better handiwork, or to bow to me and say, "Jeez, Dumbo, it's hard to make Beethoven smile and still look natural."

Originally posted to Dumbo on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 06:47 PM PST.

Also republished by DKOMA and An Ear for Music.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wonderful as always (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks D!

    Have you ever thought about writing about American composers like Gershwin, Copland, etc.

  •  Again, here is a fun way of studying the symphony (5+ / 0-)

    put together by some YouTube genius ... I  highly recommend!

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 07:04:08 PM PST

  •  Oh, thank you! (8+ / 0-)

    Such celestial serenity, this movement is a glimpse of the divine.  Reminds me of my favorite sig line ever on DKos, rasbobbo's old one quoting a music professor after a performance of Figaro:

    I'm an agnostic; I'd be an atheist if not for Mozart.

    That's exactly the way I feel listening to this movement.

    Furtwangler's Bayreuth performance was an inspired choice.  I haven't listened to it decades, but I'm not aware of anybody who's brought out the ineffable grace of this music like he did.

    Just, thanks.

    When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

    by Dallasdoc on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 07:17:40 PM PST

    •  Try the Barenboim version. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, Cartoon Peril, Steveningen

      I dithered over uploading it myself, but came down on the side of caution, because I don't trust Youtube to not pull it.  They seem to be harder to predict when it comes to Beethoven uploads.  I'm not afraid of losing my account, because I seem to have enormous mojo there, but it would ruin the diary to have the clip vanish.

      Glad you enjoyed it.  :)

    •  A similar mode is evoked by much earlier 5th (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, Dumbo, Steveningen, cfk, MT Spaces

      piano concerto, second movement, here played magnificently by Van Cliburn in Moscow in 1962 ...

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 07:29:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed. I actually prefer that one. (4+ / 0-)

        It's kind of hard to live up to that.

        •  Traditionally the concerto form had a soft and (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dumbo, MT Spaces, x

          slow second movement, these could be quite lovely, I think one of my favorites was Mozart's 20th Piano concerto, K.466, which quite properly was chosen for the closing credits of Amadeus (a movie which I saw at least 3 times in theaters when it came out!).  Here the wonderful Ivan Klánský as soloist, from 1990.  Just watching his face and gestures is a show in itself.

          Truly there could be nothing more elegant or civilized as the opening theme, but Mozart doesn't let it rest there, he then breaks into open emotionalism, and lets the music run loose before returning to the opening theme.

          It may be the the concerto was a better vehicle for conveying the contemplative mood, this of course is strict a matter of taste.  The classic Bruch 1st Violin concerto, here played by Silvia Marcovici may be the best example of this.

          This was such a bewitchingly beautiful piece that the first time I heard this on the radio I called up the station to find out what they were playing.  (This was pre-internet).

          You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

          by Cartoon Peril on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 07:52:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Outstanding work! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, Cartoon Peril

    -5.12, -5.23

    We are men of action; lies do not become us.

    by ER Doc on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 07:21:46 PM PST

  •  I savour these diaries (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, Cartoon Peril, cfk, x, wonderwhy, Boxer7

    You are doing outstanding justice to this piece so far. I'll be chewing on this entry for at least an hour, likely longer. I follow every link and pause the videos you post to replay passages over applying your observations. It's been a long time since I've sat down and actually studied music again. Thanks for the joy.

    I'm off on one tangent already and I just opened your diary. The trailer for Following the Ninth was awesome. I've book marked the page to make sure I find a way to see this movie. Hope you don't mind me giving a shout out to Kerry Candaele and wishing her great success on the release.

    Score Card: Marriages won by me, 1. Marriages destroyed by me, 0.

    by Steven Payne on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 07:41:59 PM PST

  •  I'm so thankful. Great to read. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, Cartoon Peril, Boxer7

    I had to "learn" German for a degree, and the best part of it for me was reading Schiller and Holderlin. I am also largely ignorant of music, but it somehow does not prevent me from having the best musical experience from Beethoven's 9th. I'm sure I miss a lot, but this symphony has been essential to me since I learned of it.

    Pareto Principle: 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

    by jeff in nyc on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 08:12:23 PM PST

  •  Thank you so much! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, Dumbo

    Just plain wonderful!

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 08:18:09 PM PST

  •  a clip I like - alot (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, Cartoon Peril, MT Spaces

     this is a clip of the start of the 3rd movement of the Ninth at a  concert performed in 1989.  The concert was held as a monument or celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

      Leonard Bernstein was given the honor of conducting the performance.   The son of Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine to America - Bernstein was nearing the end of a long career.  

       The first two movements - full of power and exuberance -a kind of dark and gathering beauty- now set to give way to this soft, inviting ethereal invitation to the climactic 4th movement.

       It is as though Bernstein needs the first minute or two to find the resources to match the moment in time - when from a place that symbolized the horror of mankind he could reach through the centuries to find a testament to the highest aspirations we hold dear.......

  •  Probably not a big smiler (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Outstanding work!  

    All his notebooks are grumpy, his friends all said he was grumpy, and really he didn't have a lot to smile about.

    My personal moment of amazement is the half-step upward displacement on "diese" in the double fugue. It is the most amazingly unexpected, beautiful and scary note, a crack in the starry sphere. (Don't look or your face will melt like that guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

  •  Outstanding analysis! I learnd so much more ..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, wonderwhy, ybruti

    from your diary about a piece of music that is very near, and dear to me.  I am impressed with your breakdown of movements and your commentary about each one:  I have never read anything like this before.  

    Kudos to you.

    I do not know what you do within the music world, but if you are in the teaching profession regarding the music world, then I wish I could take a course taught by you.  

    Tipped and Rec'd because you are very knowledgeable about your passion, and always a learning experience for me when I read your writings.


    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution, inevitable." - President John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

    by LamontCranston on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 07:35:14 AM PST

    •  Our local classical station, KDFC just had their (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, Boxer7

      annual countdown of the Top 100 Classical Pieces of all time.  This year, for the first time in ten years or so, the 9th was not #1.  (Rhapsody in Blue won; a lovely piece but better than the 9th?)   Anyway, they were playing it as I was driving home from work.  I got into the car right at the start of the third movement, kicked up the volume to the pleasure zone, enjoyed the accompaniment to my commute (the passage just as I was crossing the GG Bridge was perfect) and then had to sit in my car in front of the house for ten minutes waiting for it to finish.  Couldn't possibly walk away during the final movement!

      Wonderful as always.  Can't wait for next week, even though I don't want this series to be done just yet....

    •  I don't do anything within the music world. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm a music fan, not a musician.  Never took music theory in college.  I just pay attention when I listen.  I have NO idea how many times I've heard Beethoven's Ninth over the years.  Back when I was younger, I played it to death on my LP player.  I can whistle large parts of it; that shouldn't come as a surprise, because I'm sure a big Beatles fan could sing every word from Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour in order and hum all the instrumental parts.  

      However, because the Ninth is so damn BIG, and there's so many cool little details carved into it that you can prospect through at leisure, it can stand up to a lot more listening than Sgt. Pepper and still keep your full attention.  As well as I thought I knew it, I'm hearing new things in it now, just in prepping these diaries.

      I'm also not analyzing this the way they do in the music books.  I think that's my advantage that comes from being less musically-trained: being able to approach it from the top level and then going down into the details rather than starting at all the geek stuff and getting stuck there.

      Next week, I'm going to talk about the Ode to Joy, and I'm probably going to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the "recitativo" part of the movement -- all that stuff in the first seven minutes before the first singing voices.  It only dawned on me a few weeks ago that just about all that material can be pulled out of the Ode to Joy theme, little bits and pieces of it cut up and pasted together, like a ransom note.  I never really noticed that before.  And I've never heard that talked about in any of the online analyses I've read.

  •  Excellent diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge with us!

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 10:48:35 PM PST

  •  The third movement (unlike other folks) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is what hooked me on the 9th.

    I love it more than words can tell, as indeed I came to love the whole piece.

    In the words of F. Murray Abraham (as Salieri): "It is miraculous!"

    I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

    by SherwoodB on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 10:40:48 PM PST

    •  Thanks for the rec! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I got to the show very late, unfortunately and am glad I could make some slight contribution!

      I thought it was too late for anyone to notice!

      There is no way I could adequately state how much this piece means to me.

      Thanks so much for this series, Dumbo.

      I'm not paranoid, I'm just well informed--SherwoodB

      by SherwoodB on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 11:01:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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