Tag Archives: Beethoven

Scattered Bits

  • Shadows can move faster than light (this does not violate any “law of physics” because shadows transfer neither energy nor matter).
  • Ludwig van Beethoven was not the only composer struck by deafness (and who still composed afterwards) : the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana also lost his hearing between September and October of 1874, ten years prior to his demise. Additionally, in the last movement of his String Quartet No. 1–dubbed “From My Life“–  the first violin sustains a harmonic  E, reminiscent of the ringing in his ear that forebode his deafness (the ringing was really a chord in A) .
  •  “Madam I am Adam. Able was I ere I saw Elba” are two palindromes, so is the third movement from Hayden’s Symphony No. 47,  Alban Berg’s Lulu, and many of Anton Webern’s compositions.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach used to subtly sign his work with the following sequence of notes : Sib-La-Do-Si (French Nomenclature) or B-A-C-H (German Nomenclature). There are also other similar motifs such as : DSCH (Dmitri Schostakovich), SACHER  hexachord (Paul Sacher; it was used  in twelve compositions by various 20th century composers (12 Hommages à Paul Sacher)).

Beethoven’s 10th?

The “Curse of the ninth” is no outlandish term for a Classical Music aficionado. For those who have never heard of it,  it is the belief that a composer’s Ninth Symphony is to be their last. It’s as if the composer is writing his own epitaph or obituary. Although this so-called curse is statistically incorrect (a predominant number of composers having composed more or less symphonies than nine), Beethoven’s case does comply with it. But have you ever heard of Beethoven’s Tenth?

Don’t hold your breaths, and don’t be fooled by the title, Beethoven didn’t “really” compose a 10th Symphony, but he apparently planned to. And it became musicologist Barry Cooper’s task to assemble Ludwig’s supposed sketches and create the first movement of a hypothetical work : Symphony No. 10 in E-flat Major. Although many controversies arose at such a “blasphemous” attempt, this first movement contains themes that are awfully familiar to a staunch admirer of Beethoven. But the problem isn’t the piece’s fidelity to the composer’s style, it’s whether or not the assembled sketches where intended for a new symphony. Just listen to it and tell me what you think :

Another grandiose piece that has often been nicknamed “Beethoven’s 10th Symphony” is Brahms’ First Symphony. Listen for yourselves, and enjoy spotting the “Beethovenian” fingerprints, (I chose a magnificent recording of the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan) :