Friday, December 7, 2007

Beethoven, Day One / The Stupidly Difficult Map Quiz

Countdown to Beethoven's Birthday:
Beethoven's First Symphony

To our ears, Beethoven's freshman effort sounds like a better-than-average but fairly typical example of standard Classical-era (late 18th Century, more or less) fare. To hear it now, it could be late Mozart, who Beethoven admired. Or it could be Haydn, who was briefly Beethoven's composition tutor until he found out that young Ludwig was turning in pieces that he had written years earlier as his homework.

But even here at the beginning, Beethoven shows us his sassy side. That sequence of chords that opens the first movement sounds pretty tame to us, but apparently their lack of an obvious tonal center was pretty edgy stuff in 1800 Vienna. Also, this symphony is quite a bit longer than most Haydn/Mozart fare. Eventually, Beethoven is going to stretch the symphonic form to as much as three times its traditional length, and he's creeping in that direction right from the get-go. He's self-indulgent, but he's also got a lot of musical ideas to develop. In Beethoven, you'll never find much that feels like filler.

Happy Listening!

michael5000 presents:
The Stupidly Difficult Map Quiz

Sure, anybody can look at an outline map and identify the popular and distinctively-shaped countries like Chile, Sweden, the United States of America, and Uzbekistan. But it takes a real map stud to identify the obscure, shapeless nations. Are you up to the challenge? Come on! Let's see what you've got!










As should be obvious, this falls more under the category of malicious prank than bona fide quiz. I'm just messin' with ya. If anybody could get a significant number of these, with or without an atlas, I'd be pretty damned impressed. But surely you have better things to do?


mhwitt said...

It seems that I am going to reply first. To bad I'm going to get so many of them wrong!

1. Ecuador
2. Croatia
3. Uruguay (the only one I feel certain of.)
4. Slovenia
5. Burundi (or Rwanda?)
6. Andorra (oddly, I'm feeling pretty good about this one)
7. Rwanda (or Burundi?)
8. Benin
9. Vatican City

It won't be easy to look up answers after I post this. I like that about this quiz.

Michael5000 said...

Zowie, a taker!

Unknown said...

yeah, i'll pass on the quiz today and stick to beethoven.

hadn't listened to the 1st symphony in a long time. i have a london philharmonic recording, conducted by one barry wordworth. nothing special in the recording, but it suffices. this symphony really does remind me of haydn. it's so nice and lucid. and wikipedia tells me that he wrote this when he was 29, the same age i am now. i'd better get cracking.

G said...

Ah, but Becky, at least you don't have to worry about orchestration. No pressure. ...And you're not 29 yet.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, certainly I have better things to do. I'd just rather not be doing them. And I was pretty good at geography last year...

1. Sierra Leone
2. Cambodia
3. Ecuador
4. Belarus
5. Zimbabwe (I'm pretty sure about this one)
6. Slovenia
7. Macedonia
8. French Guiana
9. Cyprus

d said...

i was rather unsuspecting, really. i thought i'd come here on the off chance that you'd posted something new and funny to read, only to discover a sneaky, underhanded posting of a quiz. damn you. well, i refuse to take it.

(mostly because i don't feel like feeling stupid today.)

Chance said...

Well, I'm not great at geography, but I'll give it a shot. These are just guesses, mind you.

1. Ganglia
2. Maceretovia
3. Bakazistan
4. French Ganglia
5. East Tibor
6. Cote d'Amadou
7. Slobodonia
8. Mbab!djibini
9. New Mbab!djibini

Michael5000 said...

@mhwitt: First, well done for taking on this impossible quiz. As I knew you would. With only one correct, you are probably not going to be happy with your score, but remember this exercise was conceived as a cruel joke. Also, your logic is sound on several of the answers you got wrong.

@becky: Interestingly, after setting myself up for the Haydn comparison, I'm surprised this morning by how robustly Beethovenian the First sounds. It really does have some impressive dissonances, harmonic surprises, and big contrasts, especially once the first movement gets rolling. My recording is an old one with George Szell & the Cleveland Orchesta, and I think they liked to put the capital R in Romanticism, so I might be listening to an especially aggressive version.

@Missy: VERY impressive. You have five right, and an additional two pretty damn close. Better than I would have thought likely for anyone without an atlas and a slow morning on their hands....?

@d: It was supposed to be funny....

@chance: Advance directly to the head of the class.

Jessica said...

I see... the Rorschach inkblot test. :-P

Rex Parker said...

I've had Symph. 1 on loop all morning, but keep having to remember to refresh when Symph. 3 starts up (why they're out of order, I don't know). I LOVE this Symphony, despite its atypicality. It's energetic and tuneful and kind of inspiring. But I like Haydn. This is far sassier than Haydn ever was, I think (at least as I've heard him). There are parts of the third movement that sound impertinent and off-kilter, like an amiable drunk in an argument.


Karin said...

I see cartoon women with bad hair and big noses.

Chance: I've been to Cote D'Amadou. It's pretty much as you say.

fingerstothebone said...

Hmmm...I thought I left a comment here, but maybe I was dreaming...I'm waiting anxiously to see the answers to this quiz.

Michael5000 said...

@Jessica: Good answer!

@Rex: I'm with you. Sassy.

@Karin: Cote D'Amadou made me think of you...

@Fingers: Very well. Here's the answers:

1. Sierra Leone
2. Cambodia
3. ("The Easy One") Uruguay
4. Belarus
5. Zimbabwe
6. Bhutan
7. Macedonia
8. Surinam
9. Lesotho

fingerstothebone said...

Ooooh, I was ever so close on #6...I was going to guess Nepal..

Bridget said...

Wow. I really want a ticket to New Mbab!djibini.