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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Birthday, Beethoven!

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler. 
Public Domain.

This morning there was an article in the Age newspaper about the Peanuts movies; apparently there is a new one and the author said you can access the 1965 one on YouTube.

That made me think about my relationship with the Peanuts strip and the characters, including Schroeder - remember him? Schroeder was the musician of the group, playing elaborate works on his toy piano. And he was a passionate fan of Ludwig Van Beethoven. And one of the things he did was celebrate  Beethoven's Birthday.

That reminded me that it actually IS Beethoven's birthday today. And like Schroeder, I'm a fan. A big fan. When I was taking piano lessons I had this craving to learn the Moonlight Sonata - well, I did get as far as the first few bars, anyway, the bit that goes Dah Dah Dah, Dah Dah Dah, Dah Da DAH, anyway... I did learn Fur Elise, which isn't as hard as it sounds if you're a piano pupil.

But the symphonies ... Ah, the symphonies! Not only the Fate Knocks At The Door bit at the beginning of the Fifth(if it was a scene from Shakespeare that would be the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, in that it's the bit everybody knows, or thinks they do), but the Third(Eroica), the Sixth (Pastoral) and oh, the glorious Ninth!

Beethoven makes an appearance in Annnemarie Selinko's novel Desiree, and of course, the Eroica was meant to be dedicated to Napoleon, till Napoleon stuffed up in Beethoven's eyes. It's the only time I've read about him in a novel, though I did see the movie Immortal Beloved, a gorgeous film about Beethoven.

I've heard the Sixth performed and remember the sudden admiration for the way all the instruments worked together, yet you could hear each one individually.

And then there was the one and only opera, Fidelio, a delightful piece which the Australian Opera hasn't done in years, though it will keep repeating some others, mutter mutter Butterfly...

I loved the music, but also the storyline in which only the bad guy loses and the wife rescues her husband and the final chorus is about how great it is when a woman rescues her husband.

But mostly the music.

Happy birthday, Beethoven! And to all my readers, Happy Beethoven's Birthday!

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