12/16/16: Sharing feelings with Beethoven

It’s Beethoven’s birthday – Ludwig Van was born on December 16, 1770.

Honestly, if you’re going to listen to this, which is the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th (and last) symphony, let’s do it right. Slap on some headphones, crank up the sound, and listen to the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. If they give you trouble at work, just tell them the lady in the blog said you could.

In terms of Western classical music, there is before Beethoven and after Beethoven. And those are very different things.

Beforehand, in the Classical era, there were very specific formulas to how a particular piece of music should be written. Mozart worked within these formulas to create sublime works. Beethoven expanded these formulas and reinterpreted them to foreshadow a more modern, free expression of music.

After Beethoven, as you move into the Romantic era, you hear composers take much more liberty with music forms. Check out Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” for example. Or anything Schumann wrote.

To me, Beethoven seems to have the ability to express a wide rage of emotions musically, more so than many other composers. He can harness the delicacy of a couple of flutes as well as the big macho power of a full concert orchestra.

I’m more of a fan of chamber music in general, and Beethoven’s string quartets are fantastic.

Again, he is an expert at expressing emotion musically. And not the simple emotions like joy or sadness; I hear regret, yearning, hope, all the complicated ones.


Even laughter through tears.

Published by Elizabeth Walsh

I love music. I listen to it, I compose it, I play it, I write about it. This is more or less a bunch of songs I really like, or dislike, or just can't get out of my head. More info about me and what I do is at www.elizabethwalsh.org.

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