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MCS
03-21-2001, 04:07 AM
I really love the 7th...I love that long, lyrical introduction, the rhythmic energy of the 1st movement, the heart-rending pathos of the 2nd and the frenetic excitement of the finale...
So how come Beethoven was said to be "ripe for the madhouse" after composing it? What exactly is it about the piece that qualified him (in one person's mind, at least) fit for the asylum?
Just wondering.

Mary (MCS)

Peter
03-21-2001, 09:32 AM
I think another critic (or possibly the same one)also said 'if Beethoven spilled ink all over manuscript paper you'd admire it!'

I think it was possibly the frenetic finale that provoked that outburst, but you have to remember at that time there were plenty of musicians who actively disliked not only Beethoven, but his music as well. Fortunately there were others such as Carl Bertuch who wrote '29th Nov 1814 - Beethoven's twice postponed concert was given at 12 o'clock noon : A new Symphony (no.7) distinguished by both its richness and clarity, and representing a new marvellous enrichment of orchestral music.'


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'Man know thyself'

PDG
03-22-2001, 09:57 PM
There are other possible musical moment candidates for the "madhouse" theory. What about that unique passage of quirky chords which link the exposition to the development of the first movement? It sounds like the orchestra is being inflated! In the scherzo, the orchestral surge, which punctuates the galloping main theme, is almost too huge for what is required; when the gallop returns after each break, it really does take some listening adjustment. The finale, recently patronized by Euphony (where did he go, btw?), sounds almost suicidal in its race to the finish!

I love the op.92 7th, but it is not the most even Beethoven symphony. For me, the work is completely dominated by the breathtaking first movement. For all its famous rhythm, the allegretto is not one of the truly great Beethoven slow movements, lacking a little, relatively, in depth. I have expressed my doubts about the scherzo & finale above. What does seem to link all the movements is a galloping quality (a slow canter for the allegretto?). Yes, definitely a symphony to listen to while out horseriding. Agreed, Leslie? http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/wink.gif

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Peter (PDG)

Peter
03-22-2001, 10:14 PM
Wagner referred to the 7th as the Symphony of the dance and it certainly is a very exhilerating experience - the closing pages are overwhelming and leave you up in the air! I don't share your view of the slow movement which I find to be very moving indeed. I think I'm right in saying that the slow movement of the 2nd Symphony was sometimes played instead?
Euphony has vanished as I had to delete one of his posts which was a bit provocative at a time when the forum was just recovering from the latest round of infighting ! If you're reading this Euphony I would have emailed you but do not have your address - I hope you understand and don't take it too personally - I certainly didn't mean to offend you - I merely wished to keep the hard won peace here!

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'Man know thyself'

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 03-22-2001).]

~Leslie
03-23-2001, 04:05 AM
The Seventh? Opens with a big bang! He's grabbing fate by the throat again. Sustained major chordal intervals , joined by the usage of ascending scales..... Well yes, hello PDG, actually it does match Tristan's canter. About a 92/94 bpm on my Janos Forencsik recording, about 4 minutes into it. I especially like the use of French Horns in my dancing music. Alot of fun to ride to.

Chaotic? Mmm, well yea, but that's what I like about Beethoven.

Euphony, where are you? Please come back.~

Suzie
03-23-2001, 05:31 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Peter:
[B]I think another critic (or possibly the same one)also said 'if Beethoven spilled ink all over manuscript paper you'd admire it!'

I think it was possibly the frenetic finale that provoked that outburst, but you have to remember at that time there were plenty of musicians who actively disliked not only Beethoven, but his music as well. Fortunately there were others such as Carl Bertuch who wrote '29th Nov 1814 - Beethoven's twice postponed concert was given at 12 o'clock noon : A new Symphony (no.7) distinguished by both its richness and clarity, and representing a new marvellous enrichment of orchestral music.'


Beethoven's audience had to be quite challenged since they couldn't flip in CD a and listen over and over again. I find so much joy in the new things I find with every listen. It would seem to take some guts to review a piece after just one hearing. What do you say, Peter? Were these critics hanging out during rehearsal so as to absorb a little more? I, personally WOULD admire B's spilled ink http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif

Peter
03-23-2001, 09:18 AM
Originally posted by Suzie:
I find so much joy in the new things I find with every listen. It would seem to take some guts to review a piece after just one hearing. What do you say, Peter? Were these critics hanging out during rehearsal so as to absorb a little more? http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif

A lot of the criticms of B's music that come down to us are personal opinions that were not intended for publication, such as the diaries of Joseph Carl Rosenbaum (no admirer of B - heathen!!). There were however newspapers such as the Wiener Zeitung or the periodical 'Der Freimuthige' which published an unfavourable review of the 'Eroica'.
I shouldn't have thought that critics from the papers would have been present at rehearsals, but friends and associates who have also left their opinions such as Ferdinand Ries definitely were - Ries wrote an amusing account of the rehearsals for the Eroica. First impressions are not always accurate so certainly it cannot have been easy, and those people who could see the greatness in B's work surely possessed a great deal of foresight and imagination.

Originally posted by Suzie:
I, personally WOULD admire B's spilled ink

I'd certainly like to own a few of B's ink blots!

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
03-23-2001, 11:15 AM
Originally posted by MCS:
I really love the 7th...I love that long, lyrical introduction, the rhythmic energy of the 1st movement, the heart-rending pathos of the 2nd and the frenetic excitement of the finale...
So how come Beethoven was said to be "ripe for the madhouse" after composing it? What exactly is it about the piece that qualified him (in one person's mind, at least) fit for the asylum?
Just wondering.

Mary (MCS)

Well, I'm glad no-one's yet identified the perpetrator of these famous unlearned words because it gives me a chance to do my second favourite thing, belittle B's arch critic, and the so called 'father of Romanticism', Weber! W never missed an opportunity to have a go at Beethoven and often slandered him in the music press. Just goes to show that B was musically in a world of his own when the status quo was heading in an increasingly superficial direction.

I recon what W would have really found strange in the 7th is the bizarre sustained passage for the basses towards the end of the last movement after the part when the strings are passing around a little phrase (excellent effect when the 1st & 2nd violins are divided left and right). This passage is barely musical but creates a great sence of drama and tension. Subllties such as this were obviously lost on Weber.

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

[This message has been edited by Rod (edited 03-23-2001).]

MCS
03-24-2001, 05:12 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by PDG:
[B]There are other possible musical moment candidates for the "madhouse" theory. What about that unique passage of quirky chords which link the exposition to the development of the first movement? It sounds like the orchestra is being inflated!

I love it! What an original observation!

In the scherzo, the orchestral surge, which punctuates the galloping main theme, is almost too huge for what is required; when the gallop returns after each break, it really does take some listening adjustment.

Of all the music from the hand of Beethoven I have heard (and being a relative newcomer, there is still much for me to discover http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif), that scherzo is the one piece I haven't been able to like. It sounds disjointed or something. And it's certainly not on a par with the two preceeding movements (IMO).

Mary

MCS
03-24-2001, 05:58 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Peter:
[...I don't share your view of the slow movement which I find to be very moving indeed...

I agree totally! There is something in the harmonies of this piece which really affects me whenever I hear it. It's a personal thing, I guess.

..I think I'm right in saying that the slow movement of the 2nd Symphony was sometimes played instead?..

Wasn't it the other way around, the 2nd movement of the 7th often being inserted into the 2nd?

You all have certainly pointed out aspects of the symphony which could be considered 'eccentric'. (I hadn't realized there were so many!) But what were these tin-eared critics like Weber comparing Beethoven to? In other words, what would have been the "norm" for them at that time? Mozart, Haydn and little else? The reason I ask is that I'd like to try to get an idea of how different Beethoven was from his contemporaries. If I listen to music that was popular at that time, then I'll be better able to see where Beethoven diverged from it.

Mary (hoping no one objects to having their brains picked)

Peter
03-24-2001, 09:37 AM
Originally posted by MCS:
The reason I ask is that I'd like to try to get an idea of how different Beethoven was from his contemporaries. If I listen to music that was popular at that time, then I'll be better able to see where Beethoven diverged from it.

Mary (hoping no one objects to having their brains picked)

Good idea Mary - composers such as Hummel, Weber, Spohr, and Rossini were more popular than B - i.e the advent of Romanticism.
I've come across a few more insults inflicted on the 7th - The premier in Vienna was a huge success with the public (the slow movement being encored), but a Leipzig performance a few years later met with comments such as 'he must have been drunk when he wrote the 1st and 4th movements'. The finale came in for particular vitriol 'the acme of shapelessness', 'this absurd, untamed music', 'this delerium, in which there is no trace of melody or harmony, no single sound to full gratefully upon the ear'- (what would they have made of today's efforts!).
Different cities would produce different effects -The Viennese were notoriously fickle with a passion for anything new - so the 7th soon lost its appeal for them. Leipzig was renowned for its conservatism - (no surprise that Mendelsohnn was at home there a decade or so later). Prague appears to have been a more enlightened and sophisticated city .

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'Man know thyself'

PDG
03-24-2001, 12:16 PM
Indeed, three cheers for Prague. It was also the only European city to respect Mozart's passing with a Requiem mass, in his honour.

Peter, the "Romantic" composers you mention may have had more trail-blazing popularity than Beethoven, but B's popularity was won more over time, & even when he foisted something "radical" on the Viennese, they never held him in anything but utter respect.

Mary, you are correct. On occasion, the 7th's allegretto was used instead of the larghetto in performances of the 2nd Symphony. I actually think that the larghetto is more moving than the allegretto! Oh, well............

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Peter (PDG)

Peter
03-24-2001, 12:23 PM
Originally posted by PDG:

Peter, the "Romantic" composers you mention may have had more trail-blazing popularity than Beethoven, but B's popularity was won more over time, & even when he foisted something "radical" on the Viennese, they never held him in anything but utter respect.



I agree - they recognised that he was a blazing genius, but I don't think they understood him. The other composers I mentioned offered easier and more accessable music - tunes to whistle in the street - but like most popular music, of the moment and lacking the depth of Beethoven.

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'Man know thyself'

Peter
03-24-2001, 12:34 PM
Originally posted by MCS:
Of all the music from the hand of Beethoven I have heard (and being a relative newcomer, there is still much for me to discover http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif), that scherzo is the one piece I haven't been able to like. It sounds disjointed or something. And it's certainly not on a par with the two preceeding movements (IMO).

Mary[/B]

I've always enjoyed the Scherzo - full of humour and delightful touches such as the play on tonality between F and A major. What spoils many a performance for me is taking the trio at a ridiculously slow pace, B writes Assai meno Presto - not Adagio! I think this may be why you find it disjointed, it also has the effect of making the movement way too long as the trio is of course repeated.

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'Man know thyself'

MCS
03-25-2001, 05:47 AM
Thanks for your suggestions Peter. I'm not familiar with Hummel, Spohr or Weber and will have to search them out. Rossini I've enjoyed for some time.
I recently read a description of the Italian's meeting with Beethoven, whom he greatly admired. I'd like to share it for those who may not be familiar with it. (The writing is by Francis Toye and is from 'The Beethoven Companion'.)

"A strange meeting! On the one hand, the thirty-year-old Rossini, elegant, popular, successful, bubbling over with the joy of living; on the other hand, the prematurely aged, Titan-like Beethoven, disheveled and dirty, racked with care and disease." Rossini was deeply affected by "the squalor of Beethoven's lodgings...with large holes in the ceiling." The conversation was not easy, as Beethoven was quite deaf by then and Rossini's words had to be written out. Beethoven was impressed with the other's Barber of Seville, and encouraged him to continue writing 'opera buffa', saying that 'opera seria' was "ill suited to the Italians". Rossini states: "I then expressed my profound admiration for his genius and my great gratitude for having been allowed to voice it in person. (Beethoven) answered with a deep sigh: 'O un infelice!'" After leaving, Rossini "..going down the dilapidated stairs and thinking of Beethoven's isolation and destitution,...could not restrain his tears...That evening there was a dinner party at Prince Meternich's house...(Rossini) tried to persuade several of the people he met to subscribe toward a permanent income for Beethoven. Nobody,however, would have anything to do with the scheme...After dinner there was a reception at which the whole of Viennese society was present. Among the music performed was one of Beethoven's trios, rapturously applauded. The contrast between the squalor in which the composer lived and the elegance of the surroundings in which his work was given, again struck Rossini with a sense of tragic incongruity. Later, he tried once more to do something for Beethoven, himself heading a subscription list. To no purpose, however. The answer was always the same: 'Beethoven is impossible.'"

I thought that was an interesting anecdote which shed favorable light on the character of signore Rossini.

Mary (who has a soft spot for Italians)

Peter
03-25-2001, 09:25 AM
Originally posted by MCS:
I thought that was an interesting anecdote which shed favorable light on the character of signore Rossini.

Mary (who has a soft spot for Italians)

Thanks Mary - that was certainly very poignant. On the whole Beethoven was not in sympathy with Rossini or the upcoming Romantic composers. Regarding Hummel, I've already recommended 2 piano concertos of his in another post - English Chamber Orchestra with Stephen Hough on Chandos (I particularly like the B minor). With Weber try his overtures - Philharmonia Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch (EMI).

P.S I share your soft spot for all things Italian, the most Romantic country in the world!

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
03-25-2001, 04:26 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

P.S I share your soft spot for all things Italian, the most Romantic country in the world!



What! Even more romantic than Newcastle-upon-Tyne?!

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Rod
03-26-2001, 11:59 AM
Originally posted by Rod:

I recon what W would have really found strange in the 7th is the bizarre sustained passage for the basses towards the end of the last movement after the part when the strings are passing around a little phrase (excellent effect when the 1st & 2nd violins are divided left and right). This passage is barely musical but creates a great sence of drama and tension. Subllties such as this were obviously lost on Weber.


I don't know if anyone knew what the hell I was talking about with my remark above, I should have gone to music school, but I was listening to the 7th yesterday which reminded me of yet another similar passage that must have baffled contemporaries - towards the end of the first movement, a repeated figure in the bass (basso ostinato, I checked my dictionary this time!) just before the final climax. W must have thought B was a total 'loon' listening to this!

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

PDG
03-26-2001, 06:29 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
I don't know if anyone knew what the hell I was talking about with my remark above, I should have gone to music school, but I was listening to the 7th yesterday which reminded me of yet another similar passage that must have baffled contemporaries - towards the end of the first movement, a repeated figure in the bass (basso ostinato, I checked my dictionary this time!) just before the final climax. W must have thought B was a total 'loon' listening to this!


Of course, this stirring menace in the bass was also used to good effect in the final bars of the 1st movement of the 9th Symphony. Come to think of it, the scherzo of the 9th wouldn't be totally out of place in the 7th - it has that galloping rhythm which seems to run throughout the 7th.

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PDG (Peter)

Peter
03-28-2001, 08:58 AM
Originally posted by Rod:
I don't know if anyone knew what the hell I was talking about with my remark above, I should have gone to music school, but I was listening to the 7th yesterday which reminded me of yet another similar passage that must have baffled contemporaries - towards the end of the first movement, a repeated figure in the bass (basso ostinato, I checked my dictionary this time!) just before the final climax. W must have thought B was a total 'loon' listening to this!



Sir Henry Wood described the bass ostinato passage in the finale as 'sawing away regardless' down on a low E-D# where they stay for 21 bars - incidentally the low D# was not available to bass players in 1813.

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'Man know thyself'

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 03-28-2001).]