Today is the traditional birth date of Ludwig Van Beethoven. We don’t know for sure when he was born, but we do know he was christened on the 17th – and the tradition at the time was to christen a child the day after its birth.
Few composers have ever equalled him in importance, and none have surpassed him.
His 9th symphony is considered by many to be the greatest piece ever written.
I would contend his string quartets are at least as important; but string quartets aren’t as glamorous as the big band stuff…
But that’s just a theory… I could be wrong…
Through the years conductors have taken to playing the quartets with full orchestral string sections, as if assigning additional players might make up for what is lost in intimacy and ensemble.
I, myself, am not a fan of the practice, but you can’t really argue with the results achieved by the incomparable Leonard Bernstein, with the string sections of the Vienna Philharmonic. Here they play the late string quartet No. 14, Op. 131.
Anyone who doesn’t hear Bartok or Shostakovich foreshadowed in the open sequence just ain’t paying attention.
But for sheer volume, both from the standpoint of the music, and of decibels, you really could do a whole lot worse than the 9th symphony.
I offer, for your enjoyment, the 9th in its entirety, with that same Vienna Philharmonic conducted by that same Leonard Bernstein.
Happy birthday, Maestro Beethoven…
The above portrait was culled from the web, as I’m not nearly old enough to have been around during Beethoven’s lifetime, to have captured his picture.
It was close…
But I just missed him!