The moment in time to fall in love with Beethoven

Who remembers the moment in time when they first fell in love with Beethoven?



Beethoven’s manuscript for his Symphony No. 6


The question pre-supposes that you are, indeed, in love with Beethoven. The assumption is that you really really like the music composed by Beethoven.  I do, and I suppose it’s not too far of a stretch to assume that you do too.

This morning on WQED-FM 89.3 Jim Cunningham played his interview of Lars Vogt, who will be paying the Piano Concerto this weekend with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall in an all Beethoven program, including Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”, Piano Concerto No. 1 and Overture to Lenore, No. 3.

In the interview Lars Vogt described the moment in time that he fell in love with Beethoven. He was 10, and it was a recording of three of the Beethoven sonatas, including one of my favorites, the Appassionata (considered by Beethoven to be one of his most tempestuous piano sonatas).

It’s hard to say personally when I first fell in love with Beethoven. I know for certain I was young, probably a teenager, and probably listening to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. It’s got such power and force, yet is simple and surprises. Beethoven often surprises with his notes that always seem just right.

Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony is beautiful. I first remember hearing this when watching Disney’s Fantasia. Those images are ingrained in my memory along with the notes, and are difficult to separate when I hear the music even today.

Through the years, the more I hear Beethoven, the more I fall in love with just about every composition he ever wrote.

The following excerpt is from Leonard Bernstein – “The Joy of Music” (I borrowed the book again recently from Carnegie Library)

And so Beethoven came to the end of his symphonic journey, for one movement, that is. Imagine a whole lifetime of this struggle, movement after movement, symphony after symphony, sonata after quartet after concerto. Always probing and rejecting in this dedication to perfection, to the principle of inevitability. This somehow is the key to the mystery of a great artist: that for reasons unknown to him or to anyone else, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another inevitably. It seems rather an odd way to spend one’s life; but it isn’t so odd when we think that the composer, by doing this, leaves us at the finish with the feeling that something is right in the world, that something checks throughout, something that follows its own laws consistently, something we can trust, that will never let us down. {p. 105}


(The telecast concluded with a performance of the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.) — The last sentence was borrowed from “Why Beethoven?,” page 21.

Why not stop by Heinz Hall this weekend and enjoy the beauty and the joy of music, Beethoven style. Face it, it is inevitable, you’ll learn to love Beethoven.

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Feb 27