Saturday, December 13, 2008

Beethoven, Day 2

OK, so this year's countdown to Beethoven's Birthday is turning out to be a bit of a fiasco. Not only do I find that I don't know the pieces well enough to say much of significance about them but, hell, due to a calendar mixup, we're actually counting down to the day after Beethoven's Birthday. Beethoven's Birthday itself is, inconveniently, Tuesday. So I'm not sure what to do about that.


The Second Piano Concerto is an upbeat, jolly thing, full of good humor and pleasant melodies. It has less of the crash and thunder that you associate with the mature Beethoven, which actually makes sense when you find out that it was written at least three years before the Concerto #1 (the numbering is back-assward because they were published in a different order than they were written). You can just almost imagine #2 being written by Haydn at the end of his life, or Mozart if he'd made it a couple more years.

The overall tone of the piece reminds me of the Symphony #4, one of my favorite of the upbeat Beethoven symphonies. I wondered idly if they were written at close to the same time, but it says here that the PC2 was written "before 1793" and the S4 was written in 1806, so so much for that theory.

Reality check: this concerto was written when George Washington was the President of the United States of America. I'm not sure if that makes me feel like I listen to really old music, or like I live in a really young country.


Jenners said...

This cracked me up...the fiasco part. I could give a rat's ass about Beethoven's birthday. Sorry... but I'm just being honest. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Jenners...where are your manners? The fact that Beethoven's birthday obviously means a great deal to Michael should surely produce in you, if you are half way human, a sensitivity to Michael and his feelings. Particularly if it's his blog you are reading. So why hurt his feelings? And guess what, Jenners, Beethoven's birthday means a hell of a lot to me too! Beethoven himself means a hell of a lot to me. And to Michael too, obviously. So, Jenners, bugger off and post your cynicism and indifference somewhere else. If you can't say something nice, Jenners, shut the f#*k up. And Michael, keep on with the Beethoven PC countdown. The
4th is the perfect one for his birthday's his best, most wondrous concerto. Besides the 5th, of course. I look forward to reading more. Anyway, the date of his birthday is not by any means certain. We assume it's the 16th, only because there is a record of his baptism on the 17th. There is, in fact, no record of his birth. Maybe his mother rushed him to the church to have him baptised on the way home from hospital!! Maybe it IS Wednesday after all!! Who knows. But, of course, all this is academic to Jenners, who doesn't give a rat's ass. But the rest of us do, Michael. Keep on keeping on! Love from Peter in Australia.

Michael5000 said...

Easy there Peter... Appreciate the support, but part of the fun of celebrating Beethoven's Birthday is imposing it on the mass of folks who, reasonably enough, don't give a rat's ass. Plus, Jenner is a regular and is entitled to heckle me as much as she wants..

Having said that, I agree that the 4th is a pretty good Birthday piece, and take comfort in the possibility that I've counted down to the right date by accident. Thanks for reading!

Jennifer said...

You think that's a fiasco? Maybe it takes two to fiasco. . . I was just about to fall asleep last night when I realized that the piano music I can (somewhat) play of Mozart's is actually his sonatas, nothing to do with concerti, evidently, making my post yesterday even lamer than anticipated. Then I had to try really hard not to wallow so much in self-castigation that I couldn't fall asleep.

So, Anonymous/Peter in Australia said something that interested me about Beethoven's birthday. For Shakespeare's birthday, it was long argued that his birthday must be the 23rd if the baptismal date was the 26th. (I found one reasonably respected source this morning that says--without citations or explanation, unfortunately--that scholars no longer believe the three-day rule of how much time normally passed between birth and baptism, though.) This morning, I found a reference stating that Beethoven's family celebrated his birthday on the 16th and was baptised on the 17th--though I don't know whether those sources are credible. If his family celebrated it on the 16th, that would lend a certain amount of credence to that as the actual birthdate, but a one-day gap between birth and baptism in England, at least, would've been pretty short: the average elapsed time between birth and baptism was increasing radically from 8 days to 54 between the Restoration and the early 19th century (1). According to that timeline, one day seems awfully fast. . .

Of course, I can think of lots of reasons why the practices might've been different for Beethoven, but I just thought it was curious.

I'm enjoying Piano Concerto #2 more than #1. I suppose that means it sounds more like Mozart to me. . .

(I'm also enjoying having the music imposed upon me. It's good to grade papers by.)

Happy countdown to, um, Beethoven's baptism!


Elizabeth said...

Young country, definitely. There are barns in England that are twice as old as the USA.

Chance said...

I've slept in houses twice as old as the USA.

Listen to two concertos in one day. Or don't.

I for one enjoy the witty prose stylings of M5K no matter what the date.