Tag Archives | Classical Music

A Disconcerting Concert: Animus and Anima in Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto

BeethovenMusicologists maintain that, in the history of classical music, the symphony and the sonata are the more ambitious form of composition. In effect, the concerto for one or more instruments and orchestra is inevitably more theatrical, often promoting, rather than music per se, vacuous virtuosity. But Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto for piano and orchestra elevates the generally facile juxtaposition between soloist and orchestra to an accomplished integration of Animus and Anima, sun and moon, the two opposing elements of the universe in a triumphantly réussi instance of coniunctio oppositorum.

The following — whose style is intended as a tribute to Hector Berlioz’s A Critical Study of Beethoven’s Symphonies — should encourage the reader to go back to the source, i.e., the concerto itself, whether it be the first time you listen to it, or the umpteenth.

Beethoven’s Klavierkonzert No. 5 [Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major Op. 73 (“Emperor”)] is the prototype of concerting perfection.… Read the rest

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Is Classical Music ‘Still Effective’ At Dispersing Loitering Teens?

Are they hearing Mozart or Salieri? The LA Times reports:
With all sorts of the funding cuts hitting orchestras during the recent recession, there is still one aspect of classical music that local governments find valuable — the music's unfailing ability to disperse loitering teenagers from public areas. Whether its Handel piped into New York's Port Authority or Tchaikovsky at a public library in London, the sound of classical music is apparently so repellent to teenagers that it sends them scurrying away like frightened mice. Private institutions also find it useful: chains such as McDonald's and 7-Eleven, not to mention countless shopping malls around the world, have relied on classical music to shoo away potentially troublesome kids.
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Set Music Free: Orchestra to Record Copyright-Free Classical Music

Set Music FreeAn online music site has raised over $68,000 to hire a full orchestra to record royalty-free classical music. (“Although the actual symphonies are long out of copyright, there is separate protection for every individual performance by an orchestra,” notes one technology site.”)

MusOpen has reached their fundraising goal for both the orchestra and a recording facility, and will now record the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius and Tchaikovsky. For every additional $1,000 raised, they’ve promised to add additional recordings.

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Who – Or What – Killed Mozart? 118 Theories

Mozart circa 1780, by Johann Nepomuk della Croce.

Mozart circa 1780, by Johann Nepomuk della Croce.

Daniel J. Wakin reviews the latest theories on the causes of death of our greatest musical composer, for the New York Times:

Direct medical evidence? None. Autopsy? Not performed. Medical records? Nowhere to be found. Corpse? Disappeared.

Yet according to a recent article in an academic journal, researchers have posited at least 118 causes of death for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

A modest industry of medical speculation has grown up around the subject, evidence of our fascination with what cut down great creative artists in history. In Mozart’s case published speculation began within a month of his death in 1791, and musicologists, physicians and medical scholars have regularly joined the fray ever since.

Dr. William J. Dawson, a retired orthopedic surgeon who is the bibliographer for the Performing Arts Medical Association, decided to organize the theories. He examined most of the 136 entries in the association’s database dedicated to Mozart’s death, a list by no means comprehensive.

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Britain Uses Classical Music For Social Control

Authorities across Britain are introducing classical music in public places -- not for citizens' enjoyment, but as a social control device. The concept harkens back to scenes in A Clockwork Orange. From Reason:
In recent years Britain has become the Willy Wonka of social control, churning out increasingly creepy, bizarre, and fantastic methods for policing the populace. Across the UK, local councils and other public institutions now play recorded classical music through speakers at bus-stops, in parking lots, outside department stores, and elsewhere...as a deterrent against bad behavior. Tyne and Wear in the north of England was one of the first parts of the UK to weaponize classical music. In the early 2000s, the local railway company decided to do something about the “problem” of “youths hanging around” its train stations.
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