A Smile a Day – Day 15 – Beethoven

Beethoven

When I started my deep study of music I had CDs from over a dozen different 20th century composers.  I had over a dozen CDs by JS Bach.  I had over a dozen CDs from Medieval and Renaissance time periods.  I had zero, none, not a single Beethoven CD.  In the rock world in which I grew up Beethoven was the greatest villain.  That’s really odd because he was a rebel in so many ways.  He lived the rock and roll spirit in so many ways.

I did several deep study’s of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven.  The last time I spent months going over his string quartets one note at a time.  I poured over the scores to the symphonies.  I ate the piano sonatas for breakfast.  I went out and tried to find ever last scrap of music he created, published, or like many, never published in his life time.  There is no doubt he was the greatest master of all times, even beating out my favorite, Bach. 

Today is Beethoven’s 245th birthday!  Go to Google and look at their easter egg.  It is fun.  I went through and got them all correct before I realized that you can play the little clips of music.  Playing the clips makes it too easy….  Here is a link to a page Google put up that hopefully won’t be removed after the day is over!  Take a look!  I hope you smile as much as I did.

In the middle of my last study of Beethoven i wrote a piano sonata inspired by his music.  Give it a listen!

Image at the top is a portrait of LvB by Joseph Karl Stieler.  It came from Wikipedia.

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20 thoughts on “A Smile a Day – Day 15 – Beethoven

  1. roweeee

    Thanks for posting this, Trent. I enjoyed the piano music and you play exceptionally well. I have quite a love of Beethoven myself, although at a very basic level. I play Moonlight Sonata…the beginning and Fur Elise. Have you read a book called “Beethoven’s Hair”? It’s about analyzing a lock of his hair to uncover his cause of death. It is a fabulous book.
    My grandmother was a concert pianist I’ll come back and post a link. xx Rowena

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks for listening! I’m a bit embarrassed to say, but I wrote the music but didn’t play it. My piano playing skills are mediocre at best. I’m much better at playing my old school synthesizers. I spent years composing the old fashioned way, but I used software to play it. i did play through to make sure I wasn’t doing anything impossible, but trust me, it sounds better this way ;)
      I’ve heard of that book but didn’t read it. I should pick it up.
      Cool about your grandmother. I see you put up a link. I’ll read it in a minute.

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  2. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee – 12-19-2015 | Trent's World (the Blog)

  3. kaptonok

    Marvellous piano sonatas but the last few are a bit strange. Rather like the string quartets the last ones seem a bit obtuse and out of step.
    Perhaps my ears ( untrained) are deceiving me. I find modern classical music incomprehesible.
    Its difficult to say what part the brain plays in interpretation I have tried continous repetion to imprint the music on the mind but with much it does not work. I’m 74 an conclude the mind sets its own parameters and we cannot step outside them.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks for listening! As I said in another comment, this is more inspired by the music of Beethoven than trying to be in his style. The 3rd movement is a scherzo that is based very loosely on work that he did, but you always have to remember that “scherzo” means “little joke”, so it was a music joke, something Beethoven did all of the time that people who took him too seriously often missed. The last movement has an intro which, yes, was influenced by one of his string quartets, and then moves into theme and variation. The main idea was influenced more by an unpublished piano piece which later became the main idea behind the 4th movement of the 3rd Symphony, The Eroica. Actually, I wrote this a decade ago and don’t remember all of the details.
      One issue with 20th and 21st century music is the more you study it the better it is. That, of course, is a very broad brush since many post 19th century composers wrote very accessible music, but those people think of as “modern” do take some study. The more I studied the roots of the music, how it transformed from late romantic to Debussy to Stravinsky, etc., it all makes sense. One of the reasons it lost its audience is a person has to study it to understand it, but once you do, it makes sense an dis well worth it. Music is a mirror of its times. Beethoven talked about horses and carriages and revolution. Schoenberg talks about elevators and airplanes, and in the Interwar years it talked about the atrocities taking place in his home country, which he has forced to flee.
      Anyway, thanks again for listening!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      In this picture, yes, maybe a little. In real life, I hope not ;) Beethoven may have had a great talent, but he was considered by his contemporaries as a very ugly man :)

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  4. camilledefleurville

    The first record I bought was the Beethoven violin concerto with the Kreisler cadence, played by David Oistrak and with the ORTF Orchestra directed by André Cluytens. There were newer choices but I was probably influenced by what I heard at home. Beethoven has been a great favourite and then… I don’t know why I let him down. I turned to Schubert, Mahler, Bruckner, Bach and Mozart and Biber and baroque music. Time for me to go back to Herr Ludwig! I have played the doodle of Google but I am up before you being on the old continent.
    Thanks for your own sonata. I shall play it again later when The Girls are in bed. ‘Dinner time here : 8 pm)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I don’t know why I turned to him relatively late in life. I mean I knew a lot of his music, i just listened to other things. There is a lot of music out there – I tend to gravitate more towards either Modern or Baroque – but that doesn’t diminished my respect for Herr Beethoven. If you get a chance to listen to my sonata (inspired by, not in the style of ;) ) that you enjoy it!

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