When I first heard of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations Op. 120, I thought they had something to do with the devil! But no, in Italian the devil is called “il diavolo”, and Anton Diabelli is the name of an Austrian publisher and composer who lived between 1781 and 1858. He published several works by Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven, two important personal acquaintances. He also composed a waltz, and Beethoven wrote a set of 33 variations on the waltz’ theme.
Occasionally I like to make fun of myself. I am less enthusiastic about someone else making fun of me. And whenever I listen to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36, I have the feeling that the composer is making fun of the audience and thus of myself. Do I mind? Actually, I find it hilarious! The symphony is written in four movements, but the four movements are so different one from each other that they could be four different symphonies by themselves without anything linking them.
“Ohrwurm” [ˈoːɐ̯ˌvʊʁm] – that’s what the Germans call it. Earworm? Does that exist in English? Here is what I mean: a melody that you hear once and that you can’t get out of your head then. The German composer Ludwig van Beethoven wrote such an “Ohrwurm” – his violin concerto in D major, Op. 61. It’s the only violin concerto he wrote, and one wonders why, since this piece is absolutely amazing! It has a profound effect on me. Whenever I hear it, I feel wide awake, instantly energized, totally present. I also feel transported into another world, floating above life on earth, defying gravity. Unsurprisingly, it is one of my all time favourite violin concertos.