Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Paying Homage

More than any other composer Beethoven helped usher in the Romantic era. He formed a bridge between classicism and romanticism and was one of the first composers able to make a decent living without having to rely on a wealthy patron. He died 181 years ago today in Vienna. While I doubt the story of him dying in the midst of a violent thunderstorm whilst shaking a defiant fist, the image certainly appeals to me. A lock of Beethoven's hair along with a lot of other cool Beethoven paraphenalia is housed at the Ira F. Brilliant Centre for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University, a place I look forward to visiting one day.

Beethoven contributed much to the Western musical tradition through his symphonies and piano sonatas especially. While I cringe at the thought of playing Fur Elise (a simple yet well-known bagatelle, it is the bane of piano students I'm sure much like the opening of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is the bane of string players the world over), I was fortunate enough to get my playing skills up to the point where I could play the opening movement of his Sonata Pathetique - a bear of a piece but still great fun to play.

I took this picture in Prague last July outside a house the great master frequently stayed at during his many visits to the city.