PDA

View Full Version : "Beethoven's Last Night"


e5c4p3_artist
11-21-2000, 10:56 PM
I'm interested to hear opinions about the CD entitled "Beethoven's Last Night" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Released in April 2000, it is a concept album that documents a fictional account of Ludwig's last night on Earth in the inimitable rock-opera style of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. As a matter of interest, at least one selection from this CD is being used by a professional figure skating pair as the backdrop to their routine.

The "opera" is emotionally charged and quite melancholy, although triumphant in the end - a fitting tribute to Beethoven's works (at least during his middle period) in and of itself simply from a musical standpoint.

I'm interested in your opinion about the music and story portrayed on the CD, but I'm also interested in some of the factual/fictional information around which the story is based. In other words, in regards to the following subjects, what is fact and what is fiction?

Beethoven's 10th Symphony is an integral component of the story. Does Beethoven's 10th Symphony actually exist?

Reference is made to an older sibling of Ludwig that survived for less than a year. I am aware that seven children were born into Ludwig's generation with only three surviving. However, in this story, one of the children that was born before him but did not survive was also named Ludwig Van Beethoven. In other words, the Beethoven we know and love is actually the SECOND child in the family to be named "Ludwig Van Beethoven", although the only one to survive past childhood. As it very well could have been customary in the 18th century to re-use names in such situations, this could be true. But, is this true? Did Beethoven's parents have a previous child that they named Ludwig Van Beethoven that did not survive to see his first birthday?

I'm interested in hearing your opinions about the CD and in any answers to my questions that you can provide.

PDG
11-22-2000, 12:16 AM
Hi e5! I must check out this CD! Re the elusive 10TH SYMPHONY, as far as I know, only a first movement has been constructed, in E flat, using fragments of Beethoven`s late sketches. This movement was realised by Dr. B arry Cooper, and was first performed whilst being recorded, in London, on September 8 1988. In my view, the work, which is marked Andante-Allegro-Andante, is over-long with too much obvious padding by the good doctor (who admits that Beethoven would have done a much better job in linking the sketched themes). Since the main theme is very similar to the Adagio from the `Pathetique` sonata, I find it difficult to believe that the great man would have based his 10th on a relatively unoriginal the
me. This music has curiosity value, but not much more.

[This message has been edited by PDG (edited 11-22-2000).]

Serge
11-22-2000, 01:43 AM
Beethoven had an older brother, Ludwig Maria B., who did indeed die shortly after birth. Our Ludwig never saw him. That much is true.
There was neve more than the most cursory sketches written out for a tenth symphony, and the reconstruction you hear in E-flat is not Beethoven's work. No matter how valiant an attempt it was to flesh out the 1st movement, you cannot listen to it and say you heard Beethoven. I will not personally humor anyone who attempts such creative control even if done in the best of interests.
I have seen the CD in HMV, and I sampled it: very A. L. Webber-like in my opinion. I also read the booklet, and the story it presents is utter fabrication. There is talk of B. setting up a deal with the devil, "over-melancholization" of Beethoven's last days on earth. I was actually disgusted by it! Unless I'm way off the mark, the story presented here makes Beethoven look like a personal, almost human failure. We all know, of course, that he was not.

e5c4p3_artist
11-22-2000, 05:40 PM
Originally posted by Serge:
Beethoven had an older brother, Ludwig Maria B., who did indeed die shortly after birth. Our Ludwig never saw him. That much is true.

Thanks for confirming this. I've been searching all over for this information, but everytime I see a family tree or read a section of family history, this information has been omitted.

I have seen the CD in HMV, and I sampled it: very A. L. Webber-like in my opinion. I also read the booklet, and the story it presents is utter fabrication. There is talk of B. setting up a deal with the devil, "over-melancholization" of Beethoven's last days on earth. I was actually disgusted by it! Unless I'm way off the mark, the story presented here makes Beethoven look like a personal, almost human failure. We all know, of course, that he was not.

No, he wasn't a failure at all, and personally, I didn't gather that this story made him out as such. The story takes place at one fictional point in time (Beethoven's Last Night) and doesn't probe into his actual career or life before that.

The story in brief is this:

The ink is still drying on the pages of his 10th symphony when Beethoven is visited by Mephistophles who claims ownership of Beethoven's soul. He tells Beethoven that this is his last night on Earth before joining him in a warmer climate. However, if he will allow Meph to erase all his music from the mind of man forever, he will spare his soul. Faced with eternal damnation, Beethoven still can't bear to have his life's work erased.

So Meph tries a new angle. He points out a sick child and says that if Beethoven doesn't hand over his 10th to be forever destroyed, he will make the child suffer for the rest of her days. Struggling because he feels his 10th is his best work to date, he eventually decides that even his greatest work is not worth the anguish of the child.

He hands over the 10th, but as Meph tries to destroy it, Fate (incarnated, no less!) steps in to intervene...

Not the most exciting story, perhaps, but I've seen Operas based around weaker storylines. And there is no evil inherent with Beethoven's "deal with the devil". It's not like he sells his soul for rock 'n roll or anything!

Oh, and as it turns out, Mephistophles never had any claim to Beethoven's soul. As the story so eloquently points out, "He's the devil. He lies." http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif

[This message has been edited by e5c4p3_artist (edited 11-22-2000).]

Serge
11-23-2000, 01:31 AM
Do you know the reason a "rock opera" like this would've been written in the first place? I don't think it's actually been made into a stage production, and there certainly wasn't any sort of promotion for it in any of the media. In fact, I've never heard of the Trans Siberia Orch. before seeing this CD! Who wrote the music for it?

e5c4p3_artist
11-27-2000, 10:58 PM
I don't have any idea why they chose Beethoven as their subject matter this time around. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is more noted for their two Christmas-themed albums, both of which were also done in "rock opera" style following a conceptual storyline.

The two albums to which I refer are "Christmas Eve And Other Stories" and "The Christmas Attic."

When they released the former, a friend of mine read a review that billed them as "Manheim Steamroller meets Top Gun." With a comparison like that, I couldn't resist checking them out!

Their second album included a questionnaire asking fans if they would appreciate a non-Christmas themed album. Evidently they received enough positive responses and chose Beethoven as their subject.

Oh, and the only time I have ever seen the T-S Orchestra actually perform their music was last year. They did a Christmas special on television that featured music from their first album. The special had it's own storyline about a "runaway" girl who finds her way into an abandoned theater. Magic happens and she is treated to a performance by the T-S Orchestra. The special featured Jewel as a guest vocalist.

[This message has been edited by e5c4p3_artist (edited 11-27-2000).]