Monday, January 21, 2019

The Super Blood Wolf Blog Entry

Did you see the Super Blood Wolf Moon last night?

I've gotten fairly blase in regards to special celestial occurrences, having already seen a Super Moon (pretty cool actually), and a blood moon (which looked strangely radioactive), and I'm not even sure what constitutes a Wolf Moon. But to mash them all up together made it sound like Hollywood was in on it, and maybe Anthony Hopkins was going to be playing the moon.

Anyhow, I fell asleep before the midnight showing. They never ask me what time is good before scheduling these lunar eclipses. I'm still sore about the solar eclipse that was supposed to happen when I was five, but, due to an unusually perfectly normal bout of cloud cover, was not visible in my home town. No worries, they said. The next one is due in 35 years.

I have a recital this afternoon, and I thought, for the sake of current events, I would try to play something special for the occasion. The most obvious choice for a classically trained pianist is to play the Moonlight Sonata. Beethoven didn't actually call it that. He called it a "sonata like a fantasy" which is basically like saying that it is a piece with a carefully designed plan which sounds like a piece without a carefully designed plan. It is a novel in stream of consciousness form, a building that doesn't seem like it could stand up, one genre pretending to be another.

His friends apparently did not appreciate the subtlety of the title anymore than the rest of you probably don't. One of them decided it reminded him of the moonlight over a particular lake. And since atmosphere sells better than architecture, not only did the title stick, it has become one of Beethoven's most popular pieces of music. It doesn't hurt that it is one of the few that amateurs can play. Well, the first part, anyway.

The music sold pretty well, but imagine if somebody had had the foresight to call it the "super blood wolf moonlight sonata."

I'll play it for you now, and, if it seems a little fast, remember that Beethoven wrote it in just two beats to a bar, not four, and that adagio was probably not so slow in those days. It does not, as one commentator put it, need to sound like a funeral march. And notice that the melody, the true melody, is still actually quite slow, and that the inexorable triplets at the start (and throughout) are only accompaniment, not the strokes of Big Ben.

The piece is, for all of Beethoven's chagrin at how popular it became, one of his unique achievements.

Listen to the first movement of the "Moonlight Sonata."

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