Apr. 19th, 2012

crysania4: (Default)
I can't really remember when or how I was introduced to this piece. It very well might have been through Mr. Holland's Opus. There's a heartbreaking scene in the movie where the main character discovers his son is deaf and discusses Beethoven's deafness with his class. Playing in the background is the second movement of the Symphony No. 7.

Strangely enough, this was not the only movie to make use of this particular movement to highlight their child's deafness. Some years later, I discovered it was used in the Nicolas Cage movie, Knowing.

At any rate, whatever drew my attention to it, I found myself instantly in love with it. Enough so that I ended up using it as my senior music theory project. That's right, I spent an entire semester analyzing the work back in the Fall of 1996. I guess it's always had a special place in my heart.

The work was written in 1811-1812. Despite the emphasis on deaf children, Beethoven was not completely deaf at this time, though he had given up performing by this time and was almost entirely focused entirely on his inner world of composition. (If you want to envision what Beethoven's hearing might have been like around this time, check out this page).

Immediately after its first performance (which Beethoven himself conducted), Beethoven remarked that it was one of his best works and the second movement, marked Allegretto, was so popular at the time that it was immediately encored (ahh the days of people applauding between movements of a piece!) and was often performed on its own even though it begins and ends on an entirely unstable cadence.

Richard Wagner described the work as the "apotheosis of the dance."

I have a special affinity for Beethoven, as many folks here know. I've always loved his works but somehow losing my hearing, quite possibly from the same malady that afflicted Beethoven, has drawn me even more into his music. I've spoken of my love for Beethoven's music here many times before (check my Beethoven tag) and so it should come as no surprise to find something by him high on my list of great works that everyone should know.

My favourite performance of the work is the one done by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which is no doubt blasphemy in some Beethoven circles. The 2nd movement is technically marked "Allegretto" (moderately fast), while Bernstein takes it closer to Andante ("walking tempo"). But I admit to liking it slower better. Somehow it draws out the beauty of it even more for me.

You can listen to each movement on youtube if you would like to.

I. Poco sostenuto – Vivace This movement begins with a very long slow introduction before launching into the faster part of the movement...Vivace means "lively and fast." One contemporary thought that the chromatic bass line at the end of this movement meant Beethoven was "ripe for the madhouse."

II. Allegretto (Though played more Andante here!) Listen for the awesome buildup starting around 6 minutes in -- the syncopation, those off the beat notes, used to build up tension is just sublime.

III. Presto – Assai meno presto (Presto means "very fast") Thomas Beecham, a 20th century conductor said of this movement: "What can you do with it? It's like a lot of yaks jumping about."

IV. Allegro con brio ("Fast with vigor and spirit")
crysania4: (Default)
This one is especially for [livejournal.com profile] housedog. So a long while back we had this joke going about pit bulls and the box-headed thing and our dogs disguising themselves as pit bulls with kleenox boxes on their head. It's only a small box, but here ya go!

random3

EXIF data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28-80mm | f/4.5 | 1/80 | ISO 100 | 28mm
crysania4: (Default)
This was inspired by another community whose theme was "Studious." I think this is Dahlia's librarian look. Can't you just hear her say "Shhhh...we're in a library!"

random13

EXIF data: Sony A580 | Minolta 28-80mm | f/5.6 | 1/30 | ISO 1600 | 28mm

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