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Happy Birthday Herr Beethoven!
Yesterday was Herr Ludwig Van Beethoven’s birthday. While last year this realization had occurred to me only a day later, this year it was a conscious knowledge from the very moment that I woke up.

The first work composed by Beethoven, that I had ever heard, was Für Elise and it is this piece perhaps which is most people’s introduction to the great (greatest – if I were to let my personal bias show through) composer – ironical considering that Beethoven never published it during his life (probably never intended to?). It is cataloged as Worke Ohne Opuszahl (Work Without Opus-Number) WoO 59, which indicates that it is a posthumously published work.

My ideal homage to the composer on this day, whose sublime music has kept me steady even in worst moments of turmoil in my life, would have been to play one of his works – may be his late piano sonatas. But alas, I am years away from such an endeavor. I could attempt a simplified transcription of his early works for beginners, but the degree of reverence, I hold the man and his music in, comes in the way of this dilettantish (denigrating?) exercise.

And so, in wake of these pianistic shortcomings, I decided that as a humble gesture of tribute to Herr Beethoven, I would extend the serendipity of last year to a recurring trend henceforth. While I continue to collect works of Beethoven, on this propitious day, I will make a special attempt to procure at least one of his obscurer works that I’ve never heard before. (Once I am done collecting all his works; I could extrapolate this resolution to picking unheard recordings of my favorite works).

I therefore, acquired a CD of Beethoven’s Lieder. As an added bonus there were three solo piano works on the CD, of them, the first two I had never heard. The two not only bear an opus number assigned by the composer, they are also one of their kinds (just like the Horn sonata I had picked last year) in the entire Beethoven oeuvre. The Op. 77 Piano Fantasia and Op. 89 Polonaise are works you will seldom hear performed these days.

Postlude: I have been listening to a lot of Mendelssohn of late. Very recently I had picked a recording of his Op. 6 sonata (the only one published during composer’s lifetime). The sonata - composed by Mendelssohn when he was only 17 – is a tribute of sorts to Beethoven. That it resembles his (Beethoven’s) Op. 101, A major sonata, in theme and form is nothing extraordinary; but that its opening bars have a striking (intentional?) resemblance – in melody, rhythm and tempo to Beethoven’s work merely goes on to reassert his influence on the composers of years later and their music.
posted: 17.12.04


Where do you buy your music from? It is so difficult to find a decent western classical section in most music shops.

Do let me know. Will do some music shopping of my own the next time I am in Blore. :)


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20.12.04  

Hi Avis,

Its usually Planet M at Brigade Road - they have a dedicated "section" for Carnatic and Hindustani Classical, Jazz and Western Classical. Then the LandMark store at Forum Mall (Kormangala) keeps a decent selection too. But more often than not I end up buying what they have, not what I want :-). I also count on a lot of friends to ferry stuff that I order from Amazon.com!


By Blogger Deepak, at 20.12.04  

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