Saturday, March 30, 2019

Behind the Scenes

Following a slight cessation due to a nasty flu bug (and several million of his friends) I will be back to teaching about Beethoven to about 80 of my friends next week.

It is always nice to get some personal stories and experiences into the mix, and this week I'm starting to ask for them so we can all share them the last week of the class. What kinds of feelings about Beethoven's music did we have as children, or experiences performing his music, or thoughts about him as a composer, good or bad? And how have they changed over time, or not?

In the meantime, a student informed me that my little stunt in last week's lecture, demonstrating how the shock modulation in the finale of Beethoven's Eighth Symphony (dropping a half-step from f# minor to F Major in the recapitulation) reminded me of stamping the floor to get a phonograph needle unstuck (which I proceeded to do with perfect timing)--the student mentioned that that very thing may have been done at one of the Hoffnung festivals in England decades ago (unbeknownst to me).

I was first introduced to the humorous Hoffnung festivals on a radio program in Cleveland called WCLV Saturday Night (so long ago it was also airing on Wednesday afternoons). I haven't had much exposure to them since those heady days before the turn of the century when I was a young lad, so I did some internet location and found a link that might be relevant to blog readers, given the hard time I gave the Leonora Overture no. 2 a week or so ago in this space. It is also apropos given that our last topic was Beethoven's ability to be funny. In this case, we are listening to the Leonora Overture no. 4, which is a concoction by English 20th century composer Malcom Arnold based on a real-life episode in which the off-stage trumpeter in a performance of Beethoven's real overture failed to come in at the right time. Enjoy:

Leonora Overture no. 4 (Malcom Arnold), Hoffnung Festival version

Also, for those wanting to work ahead a little, here's a piece I'll be using a piece of in next week's lecture, which has nothing to do with musical humor, an observation which is of little help in explaining why I'll be using it, but that's for those of you who (can and do) come to class next week to find out and for the rest of you to simply enjoy on its own demerits:

Concerto for Horn and Hardart 

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