Thursday, May 07, 2009

Symphonies, Curses and CDs

Today marks the 185th anniversary of the premiere of Beethoven's 9th Symphony give at the Karntnertortheater in Vienna on this day in 1824. About a year ago I wrote how this iconic orchestral piece had spawned its own curse, the so-called Curse of the 9th. Another quirky tale I like about this symphony has to do with how it may have influenced the development of the modern compact disc. Apparently, when Philips started working with this new audio format, the first disks developed were designed with a diameter of 11.5 cm, big enough to hold one hour's worth of music. According to the story, however, a Japanese electronics businessman insisted the disks should be long enough to hold a complete recording of Beethoven's 9th. At the time, the longest known recording was 74 minutes, made in 1951. Is this story really true? I don't really know for sure but I remember it well from university where I first heard of it and it has stuck with me over the years.