5 Tales From the Complicated Life of Beethoven



Passionate, moody, troubled, social — Beethoven's personality is hard to pin down. Here are a few wild stories from his life that provide a glimpse into a life misunderstood.

As Salieri's Vocal Student

Antonio Salieri has a bad rap in many a mind, thanks to insidious rumors about his distaste for Mozart which were bolstered by his characterization in the play (and later, film) Amadeus. But he was a talented composer in his own right, and can take some credit for being a teacher to Beethoven himself. When Ludwig went to Vienna, he sought instruction from the Italian composer. From Salieri, Beethoven learned the art of vocal music; the student would set Italian texts to music, and his teacher would correct them. One interesting anecdote from Beethoven’s own pupil, Carl Czerny: Once, Salieri had some negative feedback for one of Beethoven’s songs, but admitted he just couldn’t get it out of his head. Beethoven’s reply? “Then, Herr Salieri, it cannot have been so utterly bad!”




Symphony No. 2 — Fun in a Dark Place

For much of his life, Beethoven struggled with severe cramping and gastrointestinal issues as well. While we aren’t sure exactly what was the cause of these issues, there’s a chance his symptoms were due to irritable bowel syndrome. And the composer-killer syphilis may have been involved as well. On top of that, around the time he finished his second symphony, Beethoven was beginning to notice he was losing his hearing. It was a rough time — he wrote of his “miserable” and “unhappy” situation — and began to withdraw from social functions. With all of this in mind, it’s pretty interesting to hear how energetic and lively his second symphony is, especially it’s finale. Chicago Symphony Orchestra annotator Phillip Huscher declares it has a “nose-thumbing sense of humor,” and contemporary critic Hector Berlioz wrote that it was “smiling throughout.”

 



"Eroica," or, When Your Hero Isn't a Hero

In 1804, Beethoven completed his masterful third symphony. It's big and bold, and from those striking opening chords the audience knows it's in for something big. So it was only appropriate that this magnificent symphony be dedicated to someone of equal importance. And who better than to dedicate your best work than to your idol? For Beethoven, there was no question that his own hero, Napoleon Bonaparte, should be the dedicatee. At least, until he realized his own personal hero was a maniacal dictator bent on world domination. When he learned Napoleon had declared himself emperor, Beethoven lamented, “[Napoleon] is nothing but an ordinary being! Now he will trample the rights of man under foot and pander to his own ambition.” Beethoven scratched out Napoleon’s name from the dedication page, tore it up, and retitled it “Sinfonia Eroica,” for the true heroes of the world.



Fighting With Art

Once Beethoven got over his disillusionment with Napoleon, he used his art to actively resist his Imperial Majesty. Toward the end of 1813, Beethoven completed his orchestral piece Wellington's Victory, Op. 91 that celebrated Napoleon’s defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Vittorio. It’s a battaglia, a musical form in which the sounds of the orchestra mimic the opposing sides of a battle. Listen closely and you can hear the sounds of war, as well as patriotic tunes representative of both sides. For the English, “Rule Britannia” and “God Save the King”; for the French, “Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre” (which you may know as “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”). However, the piece wasn’t loved by everyone and Beethoven responded to one critic with fighting words: “What I shit is better than anything you have ever thought.”



Lovestruck

The “Elise” in “Für Elise” is still a mystery, but a popular idea is that it’s a nickname of Therese Malfatti, one of Beethoven’s piano students. Even though he was much older than her, Beethoven fell wildly in love with her. He suddenly began to care about his appearance and putting his best foot forward, which was slightly off brand for a guy who was wholly committed to just doing his thing. Anyway, the story goes, he wrote this piece just for her. But when Malfatti invited Beethoven over for a dinner party so he could meet the parents he dropped the glass ball into a million pieces. Maybe he was nervous, but apparently Beethoven drank way too much punch and, when asked to play this “Für Elise,” found himself unable to perform. It was a bad look, and Malfatti’s parents forbade him from ever seeing their daughter again.

Beloved as “Für Elise” is today, it may have been intended to remain a private work — it was found among Malfatti's affects when she died in 1851 and wasn’t even published until 1867.




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Warren Woodruff Attending CHOA Tower of Talent



So happy to be reunited with my darling Angelica and to be a part of such a wonderful fundraiser for CHOA. Great job everyone!


Yannie Tan and Laura Zhang

Muses: Clara and Robert Schumann ... and Brahms



She was an eight-year-old Wunderkind; he was an aspiring composer in his teens who saw her at a concert and so admired her playing that he sought piano lessons from her father. When Clara turned 18, Robert Schumann asked Herr Wieck for his daughter’s hand in marriage, but he was vehemently opposed to the union: so began years of agonizing separation and tender correspondence, with many sheets of manuscript exchanged, including some of Schumann’s most affecting Lieder and piano miniatures. He wrote to his yearned-for beloved, “You appear in the Novelletten in every possible circumstance, in every irresistible form... They could only be written by one who knows such eyes as yours and has touched such lips as yours.”



The lovers eventually took Clara’s domineering father to court after he threatened to disinherit her and confiscate her concert earnings. They won love’s battle and were at last married in 1840, the day before her 21st birthday. In celebration of their joyous union, Robert presented his bride with the song cycle Myrthen as a wedding gift – a bouquet or “myrtle of flowers”. He also gave her a marriage diary, in which the couple wrote regular entries for four years (often about their sex life). They settled into a routine: while Robert spent most of his time composing, Clara managed to give concerts and compose a thing or two herself in between running the household and wrangling eight children. 



Brahms

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One of the most frustrated love triangles in Romantic music was formed when Clara began to champion the music of the young composer Johannes Brahms – like her, a piano phenomenon. He quickly became a great friend of the Schumann family. When Robert’s mental health deteriorated, leading to his institutionalization and untimely death in 1856, Brahms moved in with his older mentor Clara to help look after her children while she coped with the loss of her husband.

Brahms, who was mentored by composer Robert Schumann,  launched himself into an extended period of work on his First Symphony shortly after declaring his love for Schumann’s wife Clara. A letter survives in which he declared, “I can do nothing but think of you … What have you done to me? Can’t you remove the spell you have cast over me?

So, did they or didn’t they? Schumann’s biographers frown at the suggestion. But this is the story that Brahm’s letters tell; they start formally “Honored Lady”, a bit later; “Cherished Friend”; finally “Most Adored Being- Every day I greet and kiss you 1000 times” or “Please go on loving me as I go on loving you always and forever”. Living under one roof in Dusseldorf for several months and hiking together along the Rhine valley. Platonic? If you wish. In later life Brahms, secretive and aware of posterity, threw into the Rhine a bundle of Clara’s letters. Platonic correspondence? If you wish. And Clara writes her children, protesting her innocence “I can truly say, my children, that I have never loved a friend as I loved him…( his role during the crisis…) Believe all that I, your mother, told you and do not heed those petty and envious souls who grudge him my love and friendship, trying to bring up for question our relationship, which they neither understand nor ever could.”  Brahms never married and as Clara was lying, crippled with stroke, waiting for the end, he was finishing his 4 Serious Songs “O death how welcome is thy call”. He almost missed the funeral and as he watched Clara being lowered into the grave, where 40 years earlier he had watched Robert being placed, he lost his composure and was sobbing behind the bushes. A few months later he died as a result of a chill he caught while trying to arrive for Clara’s funeral in time.

Piano Quartets in E flat minor, Opus 47 (Robert Schumann) G minor, Opus 25 (Johannes Brahms) were both premiered with the participation of Clara Schumann, guiding muse and one of the most distinguished pianists of the day.




Source: Limelight Magazine.com


CHOA's 4th Annual Tower of Talent

video
On October 15th, 2017

The Children's Healthcare of Atlanta 

will hosts it's fourth annual 
TOWER OF TALENT!!!

Don't miss this breath taking
display of young talent!
Click below to purchase your tickets


All My Children — The Family Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach

 

Johann Sebastian Bach worked hard. He worked hard to be a magnificent composer, he worked hard to be a good teacher and he worked hard to be a good father. Bach was married twice — first to Maria Barbara Bach and, upon her death, to Anna Magdalena Wilcke — and sired 20 children. 10 survived into adulthood — six sons and four daughters. While we're left to wonder what kind of talents their sisters may have harbored, four of those sons went on to become notable composers in their own right.


Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

He was the oldest of the J.S. sons, and had the toughest life. This is partially, at least according to Grove, due to the death of his mother when he was 10 years old and his father’s remarriage less than two years later. However, he did display some legitimately good keyboard skills and a composer. Like many of his brothers he attended the Thomasschule, and after graduation he proved to be a standout student at the University of Leipzig. In 1733, he handily won the organist’s position at St. Sophia’s Church in Dresden, where he also began to associate with the figures of the court. And Dresden’s court partied hard, so hard that it must have been quite the culture shock for someone who grew up under the religious restraints that Leipzig provided. Dresden was also a Catholic city, yet another thing a Lutheran Bach had to get used to. But Wilhelm Friedemann was able to adjust — perhaps too well. By the time he got to Halle (he's also known as the “Halle Bach”) — the liberal organist was at odds with the conservative city. His professional relationships in Halle grew ever contentious, and in 1764 he walked out of the job. Though that may have been his prerogative, it was more than a bit irresponsible considering he had a family at home.

Unfortunately, Wilhelm was a terrible keeper of his father’s work; most of the music he received from Johann Sebastian’s estate is now lost. He sold a lot of it, and passed some off as his own. There’s also a good chance that it was he who lost the St. Mark Passion. Thanks, Will.




Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

Mozart once said, “Bach is the father, we are the children.” And while Johann Sebastian did have a lot of kids, it wasn’t Jo he was referring to. Mozart was talking about Carl Philipp Emanuel. That makes perfect sense, given C.P.E.’s role during the transition to what we know as the “Classical era” and the sheer volume of music he composed. Carl kept it busy.

Flute Concert with Frederick the Great in Sanssouci Flute Concert with Frederick the Great in Sanssouci. That's C.P.E. Bach seated at the keyboard.
(Adolph Menzel / Wikipedia Commons)

He was a precocious child; J.S. was his primary music teacher and he was a talented sight reader of his father’s music by 11. He attended the University of Leipzig to study law, and like any money-conscious college student he lived at home with his parents and assisted in his father’s musical projects. Like any student out there grinding, he eventually transferred and made money by giving music lessons and directing public concerts. And through all of this, he began to emerge as a composer, balancing a full academic workload with his full creative capabilities. Grove speculates that C.P.E. was such a great student because he wanted to have the path to a “respectable” job if need be — professional musicians of his day weren’t always recognized for their creative contributions and were at the beck and call of their patrons (J.S. knew this all too well). Luckily for us, Carl went with music. But all the obsessive note-taking and meticulous record keeping habits he learned in school served him well — he was the most responsible steward of his father’s music. C.P.E. also counted among his friends Frederick the Great of Prussia. He was a mean flute player, and Carl and the King had many a jam session; C.P.E. even claimed that he accompanied Frederick’s first flute solo.



 

Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach

Of all of J.S. Bach’s children to make their names as notable composers, J.C.F. and his younger brother Johann Christian got kind of unlucky. Not because of their talent, but because their older siblings got so much more time with their dad. And if you’re a Bach, “time with dad” means “time learning music.” J.C.F. went off to (again) the University of Leipzig, but had to drop out shortly after enrolling, in 1750. J.S. was sick (he died later that year), and the third Bach son needed to find a paying job. He wound up in Bückeberg, and did quite well for himself. While the court there was neither the grandest nor the most famous, it was incredibly cultured, making it a fine place to foster the life of the mind. J.C.F. cranked out vocal work, including some in collaboration with Johann Gottfried Herder.

Here’s something warm: in the late 1770’s J.C.F. and Wilhelm Friedemann went on a road trip to England to see their younger brother Johann Christian in England, stopping along the way to see Carl.





Johann Christian Bach

The youngest Bach boy was only a teenager when his father died. J.C. received a sizable inheritance (including three harpsichords) and eventually moved in with his older brother and music teacher Carl Philipp Emanuel. But in 1754, he moved to Italy where he *gasp* converted to Catholicism and became an organist at Milan Cathedral. It was there that he fell in love with opera; he moved again, this time to London, to compose for the Kings theater. He was popular, and in 1764 he was visited by a prodigious 8-year-old boy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. While J.C. was never formally his teacher, they were friendly, and Bach remained a great influence. According to Grove, 1768 saw J.C. give what might have been the first public performance on the piano.

Unfortunately, J.C.’s popularity declined over the years. His debtors were beginning to come around, and the shrinking demand for his new music did not pair well with the revelation that J.C.’s own housekeeper forged receipts and left with much of his money. His debts were never fully repaid. And while much of the public ignored his death, Mozart was sure to give him much deserved praise.





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Johns Creek’s Angelica Hale in ‘AGT’ finals: ‘she’s almost freakishly talented’



AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Live Results 5” Episode 1222 — Pictured: Angelica Hale — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

This was posted on Sunday, September 17, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Angelica Hale of Johns Creek is a pixie sweet 10-year-old girl who is super excited about her new baby sister Abigail, who is all of three weeks old.

She is also in the running this week to win $1 million on the most popular summer TV show, “America’s Got Talent” on NBC, thanks to a soaring voice that is almost unworldly coming from such a tiny package.

“She’s almost freakishly talented,” said her piano teacher Warren Woodruff of Buckhead, who describes himself as a musicologist and fantasy author. “The joy she has that you see on the television, I see it every week. It’s so real. It’s not staged.”

Angelica did not get her vocal gifts from her parents James and Eva.

“We definitely did not have to push her,” James said. “This is her passion. If she didn’t enjoy doing this, then she wouldn’t be where she is today.”

He said at age two, she became obsessed with the Lady Antebellum song “Need You Now,” though he had to modify some of the lyrics about drinking to suit her.

Two years later, she almost died. At age four, Angelica got double pneumonia and her kidneys shut down. She had to be on dialysis for 18 months before her mom was matched and donated her kidney to save her daughter.

Woodruff said that near-death experience has shaped her appreciation for life in general. “She can really teach the adult generation a thing or two,” he said. “To her, life is precious. She grasps things people take for granted. I have never met anyone like her before. She’s warm, adorable and funny as heck.”

James, her father, frequently reminds her not to let the fame and attention get to her head, that he tries to keep her grounded. “She wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth,” he said. “She’s had to earn everything she’s got today.”

Indeed, she has performed all over the country, singing the National Anthem at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, the U.S. Open before Roger Federer in New York City and the third Atlanta Braves game this year at SunTrust Park.

Woodruff said Angelica sees musical powers as transferable. “She can use the power that she knows music has to bring inspiration to other people,” he said. “She really has a mission with her music, not just something she does to show off.”

Indeed, her song pick last week to get her in the finals was indicative of that: David Guetta‘s “Without You.” (She said she listened more to the “Glee” version.)

“The song has such a great message,” Angelica said in an interview Friday from Los Angeles. “I couldn’t do this without America. It was dedicated to everyone who voted for me. It had such amazing notes. I loved it!”

Woodruff considered her last performance her best to date. “She knew how to keep the cohesiveness of the entire piece from first note to last note,” he said. “She turned it into a narrative. She doesn’t just do the big diva stuff. Every note means something to her.”



So far, Angelica has sung four times on “America’s Got Talent,” receiving raves almost across the board. During her first audition taped earlier this year, the audience immediately reacted positively with the first few notes of her heartfelt Audra Day’s “Rise Up” and before the chorus, the crowd had risen to its feet en masse.

Angelica was in tears by the end as judge Howie Mandel said, “OMG!” Fellow judge Simon Cowell said: “You’re tiny. Your voice is huge. We may be looking at a star in the future.”



During round two, her self-assured take on Alicia Keys‘ “Girl on Fire” inspired guest judge Chris Hardwick to give her the “Golden Buzzer,” guaranteeing her a spot in the live rounds.

In the quarterfinal round, she crooned Zedd’s “Clarity” with real clarity and cruised into the top 22. Now she’s in the final 10 and she said she’s ready for the spotlight on Tuesday.

“It’s amazing just to be here,” she said. “No matter what, win or lose, I’m still a winner.”

If Angelica pockets the top prize money, she plans to donate some to Children’s Miracle Network, which raises funds for children’s hospitals and related medical research.  (They helped save her life six years ago.) And she’d love to see Paris.

“I want to make songs and create albums and that’d be super awesome!” she added.

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5 Cartoons That Had Some Serious Fun With Classical Music



Remember those Warner Bros. and MGM classics featuring characters like Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and Tom and Jerry. And what’s the one thing that threads a lot of these toons together? The music. Specifically, music you might hear on any given evening at a major concert hall in the country.

So what’s up with the preponderance of classical music in these animated film shorts? That’s just the question Houston Public Media’s Dacia Clay and director of the National Orchestral Institute and Festival Richard Scerbo investigated in an episode of HPM’s Classical Classroom. In short, here are three factors that made these pieces ripe for these cartoons:

During the 1930s and 1940s, a lot of the practices from the days of silent film organ scoring found their way into cartoon scene.

Using this music was economical. For some studios, like Disney, these recordings were royalty free. For others, like Warner Bros., the studio actually had the artists or arrangers on the roster, so they could also profit off of the use of their recordings.

Having “serious” music in a violently silly context made the joke that much better.

Be sure to listen to the full episode. But before that, check out these examples to remind yourself how much music enhanced those cartoons.

“Music Land” (1935)

Can a cartoon be “enhanced” by music if that’s really what its all about? This Silly Symphonies short from Disney is about a young forbidden love between a violin* from the Land of Classical and a saxophone from the Isle of Jazz. Their interactions drive the two nations to war, but then they step back and chill out after they learn to respect all kinds of music. Classical pieces of note include Beethoven’s Eroica and “Flight of the Valkyries” from the second opera in Wagner's’ Der Ring des Nibelungen.



“Rabbit of Seville” (1950)

In which Bugs Bunny escapes the obsessed Elmer Fudd by escaping into a production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia at (presumably) the Hollywood Bowl. Obligatory antics ensue, and this cartoon goes all in on a creatively animated scalp massage.




Rabbit Of Seville from Wet The Face on Vimeo.


“Rhapsody In Rivets” (1941)

Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 is used as the soundtrack for the construction of a skyscraper. In a display of peak romantic old-timey aesthetic, a foreman “directs” the construction workers, as the Rhapsody provides many a musical cue. As Scerbo pointed out, Rivets is a prime example of studio composers creatively rearranging these tunes to match the action on screen. This short was directed by Friz Freleng, who also used the Liszt piece in a follow-up cartoon, Rhapsody Rabbit.


Merrie Melodies - Rhapsody In Rivets by Necopodalex
 

Merrie Melodies - Rhapsody In Rivets by Necopodalex
 “A Corny Concerto” (1943)

Fantasia is “serious.” “A Corny Concerto” is not. It’s a parody of the Disney favorite, featuring music by Tchaikovsky (Piano Concerto No. 1) and Strauss (Tales from the Vienna Woods and The Blue Danube). And a few Bugs Bunny hunting escapes, too.

 



“Pink, Plunk, Plink” (1966)

This one is a bit outside of the classical-cartoon heyday, but still hits the sweet spot of finding a humor in subverting a well-known piece while poking fun at the perceived stiffness of classical politics. The work in question? Beethoven’s Fifth. The Pink Panther strolls onto the stage and, after multiple attempts, replaces the conductor to lead the ensemble in the performance of Henry Mancini’s iconic theme.





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