Melancholia at the center of a Beethoven quartet

Golden autumn. © Charles Thibo

There is something like a genealogy of sound: a piece that strikes you by the fact that it reminds you of something that you have heard from another composer. It may belong to an earlier or a later period or both, but you see the lines connecting the dots on the musical chart. Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6 in B flat major (Op. 18) is such a piece. I first heard Franz Schubert’s more mature quartets, pieces he wrote under the monumental influence of Beethoven. And I heard Joseph Haydn, Beethoven’s teacher of whom he soon emancipated himself, exploring and transgressing the limits of Haydn’s sound as Schubert explored and went beyond Beethoven’s sound.

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Educating mankind with Beethoven and the Muses

Thalia.jpg
Thalia, the Muse of comedy

I remember a teacher on a mission impossible: He tried to fascinate us for the saga of Prometheus, the bad boy of the Titans in Greek mythology: First Prometheus deceived Zeus, the top Titan, by stealing the meat meant to be a sacrificial offering and gave it to mankind of whom Prometheus saw himself as the protector. Zeus deprived mankind then of the use of fire, but Prometheus stole the divine fire and again gave it to man. As a punishment Zeus had Prometheus chained to a rock in the Caucasus and every now and then eagle shows up and gnaws at his liver. As terrific as Prometheus fate is, I wasn’t interested AT ALL at the age of 15 or 16.

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Standing in awe before the Waldstein-Sonata

Monumental. © Charles Thibo

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major (Op. 53) is one of those ambitions of mine. Some day in the future, I will be able to play this overwhelming piece. Overwhelming because it overwhelms me each time I listen to it. Overwhelming because it commands respect to the apprentice I still am. This love affair started with a recording by Alice Sara Ott. I moved on to the release of Emil Gilels’ performance and ended up with Alfred Brendel’s recording, apparently the gold standard when it cones to Beethoven interpretation.

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In the data maze or a hype of Beethovian scale

Beethoven Fifth final
No notes, no music. © Charles Thibo

Tadadadaaa – the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is effective as of now! Can you feel it? Does it make a difference? No, it doesn’t. It reminds me of the question: “So how does it feel to turn 40?” Well, the world did not stop turning back then, did it? And it didn’t tonight. All this excitement in the blogosphere over the past weeks – I wonder whether we are not taking all this a little too serious.

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