Thursday, June 30, 2011

6/30 The Eroica Without a Net

Persimfans is one of the few orchestras which perform without a conductor. Judging from a short video documentary about them (link at bottom) they apparently do a good deal of modern, avant-theatrical repertoire.  However in this video they perform Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, the ever-inspiring "Eroica".

I really like the fact that (here at least) they play in a circle facing inwards.  Somehow it reminds me of a campfire jamboree... I believe B. would have approved of this kind of unusual "communal" music-making.

From Youtube:
PERSIMFANS is a symphony conductorless ensemble organized in Moscow by the Music Laboratory of the School of Dramatic Art Theatre in early 2008. Originally PERvyi SIMFonicheskiy ANSambl bez dirizhera (an abbreviation for The First Conductorless Symphony Ensemble) was founded by the violinist Lev Ceitlin in 1922 right after the Civil War. The first Soviet years were marked by collectivist utopia that in the case of PerSimfAns revealed itself in the idea of providing all its members (up to 150 musicians) with the self-managing authority free from baton/scepter despotism, demonstrating, as Nicholas Slonimsky once wrote, that "in a proletarian state orchestra men do not need a musical dictator". PerSimfAns was striving to make familiar the new-born proletariat with the classical and modern pieces, arranging concerts virtually anywhere: concert halls, working clubs and factories, reaching the widest possible audience, inspiring dozens of imitators in other Soviet cities as well as in Paris, Leipzig and New York and wining worldwide acclaim from such collaborators as Prokofiev, Milhaud, Myaskovsky, Zecchi, Petri etc., including even Klemperer. In 1933 despite its lasting fame the ensemble was forced to halt its activity, thus indicating the end of pure socialist idealism and anticipating total dictatorship of Stalinist regime.

As back in the 1920s, today PerSimfAns consists of the highly acclaimed orchestras members and Moscow conservatory teachers, however nowadays its concerts include not exclusively conductorless performance of symphonic pieces, but the reconstruction of the original noise-ensembles adjusted to their authentic repertoire, ballet troupe staging a forgotten Prokofiev "Trapèze" ballet , litmontage, documentary video montage etc. PerSimfAns brings into public focus rare musical pieces (i.e. "First Concert" by A. Mossolov (1927), "Metal March" by G. Lobachev (1928), "On the Dneprostroi" by J. Meituss (1932), "Intégrations" by I. Wyschnegradsky (1969) etc.) as well as bizarre versions of the famous ones (i.e. "Die Zauberflöte Overture" (Soviet edition for cinemas, clubs and variety from 1930) or even compositions by the contemporary composers (such as Pavel Karmanov or "Vezhlivyi Otkaz" (The Polite Denial) rock-band). In 2010 PerSimfAns is planning to perform Beethovens "Third Symphony", one of the symbolic landmarks in the early Soviet repertoire."

Symphony No.3 in E flat major, op.55 'Eroica' (1805)


PERSIMFANS PROMO (documentary)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

6/29 Bernard Herrmann's 100th Birthday

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Bernard Herrmann's birth (let's call it his 100th birthday).  I've always cited Herrmann as my favorite 20th Century composer.  In fact he was my introduction to orchestral music in general.  Back when I was deep into experimental music and free jazz, I used to comb through old thrift stores for kitschey records to sample/collage.  One time I found a 99 cent cassette of the original score recording to Herrmann's "The Day the Earth Stood Still".  I was literally blown away at how awesome this score from the 50's was.  For me as an electronic musician, the 2 theremins, electric basses and organs were a perfect entry point into film score music.  From there I collected ALL of Herrmann's works, as well as the best stuff from Goldsmith, North, Steiner, Waxman, Korngold, Elfman, Horner, Morricone, etc...  However Herrmann was still way ahead of every other film music composer in my of Bennie's infamous claims is that he did all the orchestrations of his music himself - and that most film composers didn't.  I think that had alot to do with the uniqueness of his sound...his wind writing is almost immediately recognizable.

Main Title from "The Day The Earth Stood Still"
"the score included electric violin, electric bass, 2 theremins* (treble & bass), test oscillators, vibraphone, 4 pianos, 4 harps & approximately 30 brass instruments"


So, thinking about Herrmann recently made me think of some parallels between Beethoven and Bennie...

Both left their original hometown for a new city...
(LvB:Bonn->Vienna / BH:Brooklyn->Hollywood)

Both had big early successes...
(LvB: most celebrated pianist in Vienna / BH:"Citizen Kane")

Both very stubborn and refused to make changes to their scores...
(LvB:Fidelio / BH:"Wuthering Heights", Symphony 1)

Both had and early "derivative period"...
(LvB:Haydn, Mozart / BH: Copland, Elgar) 

Both had strong middle periods...
(Herrmann's middle period was when he worked with Hitchcock and Harryhausen)

Late success...
(Herrmann's last film, "Taxi Driver" was nominated for an Academy Award)

Use of technology......
(LvB: metronome, panharmonicon, extended timpani, trombones / Herrmann used theremin in "The Day The Earth Stood Still", and Moog on "Sisters", "Endless Night" etc..)

Difficulty getting along..
(Herrmann was not shy about putting down his fellow composers, as well as the directors who he disdained.)

Both had an "out of favor" period...
(After his partnership with Hitchcock ended, Herrmann had fewer big productions until very late in his life)

Finally, both had a prodigious talent for writing very simple motifs and "exploding" then into orchestral masterpieces.
(LvB:5th and 6th Symphonies / BH: "Psycho", "North by Northwest", etc...)

Happy 100th, Bennie!

"Vertigo" Main Title:


"Death Hunt" from "On Dangerous Ground"
(Esa Pekka-Salonen with the L.A. Phil)


Transcript of a lecture given by Bernard Herrmann at the George Eastman House Museum in October, 1973.

Bernard Herrmann Society (News, Forum, articles)

Herrmann Works Listing

Analysis of "Vertigo"

Here's a fine article about Herrmann's best scores from Film Music Review:

Here's a link to the New York Philharmonic's archive of Herrmann-related performances:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

6/28 Violin Concerto 3rd Movement (Chee-Yun Kim)

I usually make it a rule not to post a work unless all the movements are available (or at the very least the 1st movement) so when I came across a performance of Beethoven's Violin Concerto Op.61 which was missing the 1st movement I hadn't planned on posting about it - but after watching I was so impressed with this performance I decided that just the 3rd movement alone was worth featuring.  The featured violinist, Chee-Yun Kim, has a great tone and articulation and the orchestra give a committed reading.  Apparently she's also appeared on TV on a show called "Curb Your Enthusiasm"...

Allmusic: "The second movement takes a place among the most serene music Beethoven ever produced. Free from the dramatic unrest of the first movement, the second is marked by a tranquil, organic lyricism. Toward the end, an abrupt orchestral outburst leads into a cadenza, which in turn takes the work directly into the final movement. The genial Rondo, marked by a folk-like robustness and dancelike energy, makes some of the work's more virtuosic demands on the soloist."

Violin Concerto Op.61 in D, 3rd Movement:


The 2nd movement can be found HERE.

Monday, June 27, 2011

6/27 Bagatelles on Guitar, Hand Cannons

Though I have posted a good chunk of my own sequenced versions of Beethoven's works arranged/transcribed for guitar, there are of course many great live performances - among them this fine set of Bagatelles transcribed and performed by David Pavlovits.

3 Bagatelles:
From 11 Bagatelles, Op.119No. 4. Andante cantabile (@ 0:00)
From 11 Bagatelles, Op.119, No. 9. Vivace moderato (@ 1:36)
From 7 Bagatelles Op.33, No. 4. Andante (@ 2:21)


What the heck, here's my arrangement of Wellington's Seige arranged for guitar. Adapted from Wellington's Victory, or the Battle of Vittoria op. 91, for Piano and Two Cannons, Hess 97..

(Shootin' starts at 2:45)

Modified and adapted from an original sequence by Mark S. Zimmer from The Unheard Beethoven.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

6/25 Artur Rubinstein Competition Beethoven Works Pt. 1

The Arthur Rubinstein 13th International Piano Master Competition was recently held and most of the performances were uploaded to Youtube.  Here are some of the best Beethoven performances.  Today will be the early Beethoven works and tomorrow I'll post a playlist of the later works...

32 variations in C minor, WoO 80 (Sijing Ye)
Sonata no. 7 in D major, op. 10 no. 3 (Eric Zuber)
Sonata no. 16 in G major, op. 31 no. 1 (Sasha Grynyuk)
Sonata no. 18 in E-flat major, op. 31 no. 3 (The Hunt) (Ilya Rashkovskiy)
Sonata no. 21 in C major, op. 53 (Waldstein) (Alexandre Moutouzkine)

Linklist (1 hr 39 min)

Friday, June 24, 2011

6/24 Paganini's Caprices and Bartok's Mikrokosmos on Guitar

Nicolo Paganini, by Richard James Lane (died 1872), published 1831
Thought I'd divert from Beethoven today to post some of my guitar sequences of Paganini and stuff (if I do say so myself).

Paganini - All 24 Solo Violin Caprices on Guitar

Linklist (1 hour)

Bartok on Guitar (and in various "rock-metal" arrangements)
  • Scherzo (Arr. for Guitar)
  • Allegro Barbaro (Rock Arrangement)
  • Mikrokosmos (27 selections arranged for solo Guitar)
  • Mikrokosmos 140 - Free Variations (arr. for Guitar & Drums)
  • Mikrokosmos 122, 146, 113, 147 (Arr. for Guitar & Drums)
  • 3 Piano Works (Arranged for guitar)
  • Mikrokosmos 149 - Burgarian Dance 2 (arr. for Guitar & Drums)
  • Mikrokosmos 148 - Bulgarian Dance 1 (Arr for Guitar & Drums)
  • Mikrokosmos 153 - Burgarian Dance 6 (arr. for Guitar & Drums)

Linklist (1 hour)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

6/23 Sonata No.31 with Hélène Grimaud

It was just a couple days ago that I snuck in a Richter performance of Beethoven's Piano Sontata 31, so here's a more descriptive post with a performance by Hélène Grimaud..

From Allmusic:
Beethoven's piano sonatas grew in complexity and depth as the cycle of 32 progressed. The last dozen or so could be called absolute masterpieces of piano music, with the latter half of that group rising to a level that often inspires awe and wonderment. This work, though sometimes overshadowed by the mighty "Hammerklavier" Sonata, and the last, the C minor, Op. 111, seems quite as impressive as these better-known works. This unusual work, thematically threadbare at the outset, is a great and deeply profound composition, whose fugal finale achieves the highest keyboard art. This composition opens with a gentle, slow idea of strong spiritual character, the music sounding mesmeric, tranquil, chorale-like, intimate. Its fabric consists of many threads, but on the surface there is little of actual substance, at least from the standpoint of musical analysis. Yet this lovely but seemingly unpromising opening contains the seeds of this movement's rich thematic and harmonic material. The latter half of the first subject is borrowed from the Largo second movement of Haydn's Symphony No. 88, in G major. At the time Beethoven was writing this sonata, he was suffering the first bouts of the illness that would take his life six years later. The serene, rather valedictory mood of the first movement (Moderato cantabile, molto espressivo) may reflect his sense of mortality, of an impending doom. The second subject is lively, but in all its elements seems to be on the descent, expressing, perhaps the end of a journey. The development introduces some tension and subtly disrupts the serenity, without, however, essentially altering the general mood of tranquility.

The second movement (Allegro molto) is short and jovial. Or is it? It certainly starts off with a happy demeanor, but that temperament is periodically interrupted by a ponderous ritardando, which finally overtakes the direction and character of the piece. The third movement, marked Adagio ma non troppo, is somber, bordering on the funereal. This ponderous, dark music may reflect the composer's deepest doubts and disappointments. The finale begins without pause after the Adagio. Its theme, almost Bach-like in its contentedness and fugal character, sounds serene, expressing, perhaps, the composer's acceptance of his fate. This is a movement of great subtlety and beauty, and its structure is masterful and original. The middle section is quiet and dark, its mood looking back to the darkness of the Adagio. Suddenly the piano unleashes ten fateful chords in a slow crescendo. The main theme then reappears and struggles for a time with the dominant mood of darkness. Eventually it gains strength, transforming the movement into a triumphant, ecstatic, radiant utterance. 

Piano Sonata #31 In Ab, Op.110 (1822)


(A slightly better video of this performance can be found here)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

6/22 Beethoven Loves Doris

Written in 1793 at age 23, this is a charming piece by the young Beethoven.
(Text by Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim)

Ein Selbstgespräch (Soliloquy), WoO.114 (1793)

Ich, der mit flatterndem Sinn
Bisher ein Feind der Liebe bin
Und es so gern beständig bliebe,
Ich! Ach! Ich glaube, daß ich liebe.

Der ich sonst Hymen angeschwärzt
Und mit der liebe nur gescherzt,
Der ich im Wankelmut mich übe,
Ich glaube, daß ich Doris liebe.

Denn ach! Seitdem ich sie gesehn,
Ist mir kein'andre Schöne schön.
Ach, die Tyrannin meiner Triebe,
Ich glaubte gar, daß ich sie liebe.
I who, fickle of mind,
have been hostile to love until now
and who would like to remain so,
I, ah! I think I´m in love.

I who once denounced marriage
and only made fun of love
and who is well-practiced in inconstancy,
I think I´m in love with Doris.

For ah! since I first saw her,
no other beauty seems as fair,
Ah, the tyrant who rules my desires,
I do indeed think that I love her.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

6/21 The Weirdest Piano Concerto Arrangements You'll Love Vol.1

“Guitar” (1914) ferrous sheet metal and wire" MoMA © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso
The Weirdest Piano Concerto Arrangements You'll Love Vol.1...or perhaps can "Like Eventually"...

After doing rock versions of Beethoven's complete string quartets, I decided that I wanted to hear how his concertos might sound if the lead instrument were a guitar instead of a piano or violin (or cello).  After a few fruitless attempts at incorporation guitar sounds into symphonic arrangements, I tried to do a guitar and synthesizer version.  Despite a good amount of work I finally had to admit that it just didn't sound that good.  Finally I realized that I should go back to my previous idea with the quartets and make full rock band arrangements for these works.  It took a bit more work since I didn't want to lose a single note, but I managed to get everything down to 2 electric guitars, bass and organ (as well as the lead instrument).

Here's Beethoven's Violin Concerto in a "Rock" arrangement.  Electric guitar replaces the violin solo, as well as the 1st violin part.
1 Allegro ma non troppo: from 0:03
2 Larghetto: from 22:03
3 Rondo. Allegro: from 29:18
Guitar Arrangement sequenced by Ed Chang using Synthfont.


And here's Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto in a similar arrangement, with acoustic guitar as the soloist and electric guitars in the 1st and 2nd violin roles...
1. Allegro con brio: from 0:03
2. Largo: from 14:24
3. Rondo-Allegro: from 21:49
Guitar Arrangement sequenced by Ed Chang using Synthfont.


Piano Concerto 5...the piano solo is divided into Left Hand -> Acoustic, Right Hand -> Electric
I: 0:03    II: 18:44   III: 25:15


I did arrangements for all of B.'s concertos so I'll put up some more soon....

Monday, June 20, 2011

6/20 Listening to Music

One of the most unique (and rewarding) things about Beethoven (and classical music in general) is that it functions as music to be listened to. I mean listened to in the same way that most people read a book, or watch a movie (in a theater). Much of popular music today is really designed for dancing or as "mood" music - that's why there's so much repetition in the drum and bass line, and the song usually doesn't modulate in any kind of way to draw attention to the fact that "it's modulating". The dynamic level is arranged in a way so that it starts loud..and stays that way. This makes it easier to listen while at the gym, or driving in traffic. However classical music was never intended to be listened to as an attention-dividing experience. It's meant to be listened to and followed like a dramatic Russian war epic ("War & Peace"?). In a single piano sonata movement there is often a variety of mood swings and jokey witticisms littered throughout the exposition and development sections. And very often Beethoven will not just repeat the notes in the recapitulation, but add some new, poignant/funny element to keep it unpredictable.

Of course it's perfectly fine to just listen to a Beethoven symphony for the "vibe" - I do it all the time, especially since I have music playing every waking hour. But it's always worth mentioning that Beethoven is not just giving us "notes" - there's human drama and comedy splashed all over those string textures.

Here's a few ideas that have helped me to "read" classical music:

Listen for how each instrumental group (winds, horns, strings, percussion) enters
the piece. Then follow how B. uses each of these groups. In general, the strings are the lead instrument and the horns are used for extra "oomph".

Listen for the main motif or melody and break it up into it's "parts". By parts I mean the antecedent/consequent (call/response) nature of a theme melody. It's fun to listen to a melody and see how it gets echoed by other instruments and altered in different ways. My research on my blog post on homophonic forms was pretty handy to learn about theme structures.

Listen for the larger structure of the work - notice when the exposition repeats, how the development develops, and how the recap retransitions into the original theme. These are all signposts saying things like "You are now entering the State of Lyrical Theme in Dominant Harmony". If the work is in variation form, compare how Beethoven develops and twists the original theme.

These all may sound like school homework assignments I suppose, but after awhile this kind of "active listening" becomes as easy as recognizing when a commercial comes on during a TV show and it all just adds to the experience.  When an action movie slows down for some "romance", you don't have to think "oh it's the lyrical part".  But you do recognize it as a change in the mood and pace and this is exactly the kind of thing Beethoven wants us to feel during one of his symphonies.

The idea for today's post on "listening" came from an article about how reading and doing crosswords can block your ability to hear.

Piano Sonata #31 In Ab, Op.110 (1822)
Sviatoslav Richter


Sunday, June 19, 2011

6/19 Beethoven Highlights from the 20th New Orleans International Piano Competition.

:  "Spencer Myer, a native of North Ridgeville, won first prize Sunday in the New Orleans International Piano Competition. He is shown here accepting the audience's applause after performing with the Cleveland Orchestra in the finals of the 2005 Cleveland International Piano Competition, in which he won fourth prize."
More piano music today featuring Beethoven highlights from the 2008 20th Annual New Orleans International Piano Competition.  Each of these videos features a (longish) infomercial by the sponsor (Hall Piano Company), followed by a Beethoven piece and some other works in the performance recital.  I put links below to go directly to the Beethoven sonatas, but the other works are also well worth checking out.

Di Wu: Piano Sonata 11, 1st & 2nd Movements
Di Wu of China performing: Beethoven Sonata #11 in B-flat Major, Op22; Ravel Excerpt from Miroirs.

Chetan Tierra: Piano Sonata 26 "Les Adieux", 1st Movement
Chetan Tierra of the United States performing: Alexander Scriaban Sonata No.4 in F-sharp Major, Op.30; Beethoven Sonata in E-flat Major, Op.81a, Les Adieux; Brahms Variations on a Theme by Paganinni, Book 1 Op.35.

Spencer Myer: Piano Sonata 24 "Fur Therese"
Gold Medalist Spencer Myer: Beethoven: Sonata No.24 F-sharp Major, Albeniz: Iberia Book 1, Evocation, El Puertp, Corpus Christi en Sevilla; Liszt: Venezia e Napoli, S.159 Gondoliera, Canzone, Tarantella.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

6/18 Valentina Lisitsa's Hanover Recording Sessions

Not too long ago I featured Valentina Lisitsa's exquisite rendition of Fur Elise here.  Ms. Lisitsa has a huge and wonderful Youtube channel featuring hours of her great pianistic ability, and so here's a "small" collection of her Beethoven recorded in Hannover, Germany, Dec 2009. 

Pt 1-3: Piano Sonata #7 In D, Op.10/3 (1798)
Pt 4-5: Piano Sonata #14 In C#m, Op.27/2, "Moonlight" (1801)
Pt 6-10: Piano Sonata #29 In Bb, Op.106, "Hammerklavier" (1818)

Linklist (Total length: 1 hour, 15 minutes)

More Beethoven by Ms. Lisitsa here - a LOT more.

Friday, June 17, 2011

6/17 All New Beethoven Guitar Hits!

There's nothing more educational (for me, at least) than to post about Beethoven every single day - but a close second would arranging his works for guitar.  Taking a close look at each and every measure and tweaking them to fit in the context, range and style of a guitar is a bit of work - but quite rewarding.  A couple of my recent "experiments" are these two transcriptions: an arrangement of B.'s Symphony 3 "Eroica" 1st Movement (adapted from Franz Liszt's transcription for solo piano) and the Diabelli Variations (using a new guitar sound than my 2 previous versions).  As with my other guitar arrangements these sequenced realizations would  probably be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to play in real life without special tunings, etc...but they sound still pretty cool I think as "virtual extrapolations"...

Symphony 3 "Eroica" for 2 Guitars


The Diabelli Variations for 2 Guitars

Left Side Guitar - TOP                     Right Side Guitar = BOTTOM 
0:04 - Tema : Vivace
0:52 - Variation 1 : Alla marcia maestoso
2:22 - Variation 2 : Poco allegro
3:22 - Variation 3 : L'istesso tempo
4:15 - Variation 4 : Un poco piu vivace
5:03 - Variation 5 : Allegro vivace
5:52 - Variation 6 : Allegro ma non troppo e serioso
7:24 - Variation 7 : Un poco piu allegro
8:40 - Variation 8 : Poco vivace
9:47 - Variation 9 : Allegro pesante e risoluto
11:25 - Variation 10 : Presto
12:24 - Variation 11 : Allegretto
13:40 - Variation 12 : Un poco piu moto
14:45 - Variation 13 : Vivace
15:53 - Variation 14 : Grave e maestoso
19:46 - Variation 15 : Presto scherzando
20:34 - Variation 16 : Allegro
21:39 - Variation 17 : Allegro
22:45 - Variation 18 : Poco moderato
25:10 - Variation 19 : Presto
26:07 - Variation 20 : Andante
27:32 - Variation 21 : Allegro con brio - Meno allegro
28:50 - Variation 22 : Allegro molto ( alla 'Notte e giorno faticar' di Mozart)
29:36 - Variation 23 : Allegro assai
30:25 - Variation 24 : Fughetta ( Andante)
32:52 - Variation 25 : Allegro
33:37 - Variation 26 : Piacevole
34:21 - Variation 27 : Vivace
35:09 - Variation 28 : Allegro
36:11 - Variation 29 : Adagio ma non troppo
37:19 - Variation 30 : Andante, sempre cantabile
38:49 - Variation 31 : Largo, molto espressivo
42:28 - Variation 32 : Fuga (Allegro)
46:07 - Variation 33 : Tempo di minuetto moderato

This is my 3rd try at making a Diabelli Variations guitar recording, I think it's the final version...the previous two are OK but this one has the best guitar sound I think.  Previous versions:

Electric and Acoustic guitars:
Acoustic Guitars (1st version):

However, for a live rendition of an arrangement of B.'s 5th Symphony I think this is the guy to beat:
Warning - very loud recording...

Beethoven 「運命」 LUNA KENZO

Thursday, June 16, 2011

6/16 Hindemith Plays Beethoven

Previously I've featured other composers playing Beethoven's music (Bartok, Rachmaninoff) so today it's Paul Hindemith's turn.  Hindemith (1895-1963) is mentioned by Leonard Bernstein in my "profile" quote: "Melodies, fugues, rhythms – leave them to the Tchaikovskys and Hindemiths and Ravels..."  The fugue Lenny refers to is undoubtedly Ludus Tonalis ("Play of Tones" or "Tonal Game", subtitled "counterpoint, tonal and technical studies for the piano") which contains 12 fugues with interludes.

Here I collected Paul Hindemith performing two Beethoven works:
Duo for Violin and Cello (Es-dur) WoO.32 (1797) 'w 2 Obbligato Eyeglasses' 
(with Rudolph Hindemith/Cello)
and Serenade for Violin, Viola & Cello in D major, Op.8 (1797)
Violin: Szymon Goldberg
Viola: Paul Hindemith
Cello: Emanuel Feuermann


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

6/15 Sextet in Eb Op.81 b for 2 Horns and Strings

A fine performance of an under-played Beethoven work...

From Allmusic:
This composition is something of a chamber concerto for two horns with accompanying strings; the string quartet rarely comes forward with interesting material, except to give the horn players an occasional rest during transitions. Those horn parts, on the other hand, are quite taxing, full of hunting calls and fanfares. The first movement, Allegro con brio, is a sonata form built on conventional eighteenth-century-style themes. What's interesting here is the development, which allows the horns several lyrical passages as relief from their more intricate, percolating and burbling material. In the Adagio, a pastoral image, possibly that of a tranquil forest scene is described by a warm, extended theme uttered by the horns and repeated by the strings. This theme forms the movement's outer sections; in the middle is a sweet, slow duet for the horns with minimal accompaniment. The third and final movement is a rondo (\Allegro) abounding in hunting calls and close harmony; the movement calls to mind the cheerful rondo-finales of Mozart's horn concertos, although Beethoven's writing tends to be less exuberant than Mozart's.

Sextet In Eb for 2 Horns and Strings, Op.81B (1795)
1. Allegro Con Brio
2. Adagio
3. Rondo: Allegro

Amici Ensemble Frankfurt: Samuel Seidenberg, Michael Armbruster, Andrea Kim, Elisabeth Krause, Dirk Niewöhner, Florian Fischer, Christoph Schmidt


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

6/14 "The Vale of Clwyd": A Welsh Folk Song

The Vale of Clwyd

"The Vale of Clwyd" (Welsh: Dyffryn Clwyd) is a folk song arranged by Beethoven as part of 26 Welsh Songs WoO.155 (1810).  I've never heard of it but when I looked it up on the web I immediately knew B. would have loved it there.  Here's a great performance filmed from the balcony of someone's living room..

"The Vale of Clwyd" (text), from 26 Welsh Songs WoO.155 (1810).
with Anne Roberts, Gordon Robson, James Ruggles and Margaret Sewell on vocals.

Salon Classical House Concerts Beethoven Welsh Songs

Think not I'll leave fair Clwyd's vale;
To me 'tis fondly dear!
For still its scenes those hours recall
When I was blest (when I was blest) and Henry here.

Long, long, to part our willing hands
An angry father strove;
While sorrow press'd on Henry's health,
A sorrow nurs'd, (a sorrow nurs'd) by hopeless love.

Nor was the idea vain:
How sad thou art, he cried;
But smile again, my darling child;
For thou shalt be thy Henry's bride.

At that glad sound, on wings of love,
To Henry's cot I flew:
But, ah! The transient flush of joy
From his wan cheek too soon withdrew.

'Twas doubtful bliss, 'twas sure alarm;
I only smil'd through tears:
But soon we hailed the bridal day,
And Love's fond hopes o'ercame its fears.

Ah! Hopes too false; ah! Fears too true,
Nor love nor joy could save:
I can no more, - but mark you turf
With flow'rs o'erspread, - 'tis Henry's grave!

Monday, June 13, 2011

6/13 Organ Overture

I previously did a blog post featuring pretty much all of Beethoven's epic and wonderful overtures so there's no point in bringing them up again - unless it's the Egmont played on an organ...

Egmont Overture, Op.84
Xaver Varnus lays the Budapest Synagogue 2004.


...or the Coriolan by a brass ensemble...
Coriolan Overture, Op.62
Transcribed by Michel Nowak
Harmonie Municipale d'Avion sous la direction de Luc Delozien


or Egmont by a brass ensemble...
Egmont Overture, Op.84
live In Arouca Portugal December 2007


Sunday, June 12, 2011

6/12 Dudamel on Beethoven's 9th

Gustavo Dudamel's inaugural concert as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This performance took place at the Hollywood Bowl.  Rockin'.

Symphony No.9 in D minor, op.125 (1824)
Pt 1-2: I. Allegro ma non troppo e un poco maestoso (starts at 1:50)
Pt 3-5: II. Molto vivace
Pt 6-7: III. Adagio molto e cantabile
Pt 8: IV. Presto / Allegro Assai (Annoyingly, video goes off-sync from sound, just close your eyes and listen...)

Linklist (1hr 45 min)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

6/11 Master Class w Ed Aaron on String Quartet 1

Cellist Edward Aaron is an active classical musician and organizer in New York City who has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.  Here he gives a master class to a very fresh student string quartet working on Beethoven's String Quartet Op.18 No.1 in F.  Mr. Aaron comes in at around 8:30...

"BYO Chamber Group was lucky enough to have a master class with Ed Aaron from USB Festival Series. Working with our quartet on Beethoven String Quartet in F Major"

It's a little rough at the beginning but that's what teachers are for, right?  Fine group.

Friday, June 10, 2011

6/10 Nota Profana's Beethoven

One of the most "gothic-metal" interpretations of Beethoven's Allegretto from the7th Symphony must be Nota Fortuna's arrangement with vocalist Gaby Koss singing some original (I think) lyrics....  It's an interesting mix of chamber strings with electric guitar and drums.  Now if only Ms. Koss would do arrangements like this of the song lieder!


Another more traditional arrangement of Beethoven with "new" lyrics would be "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" with text by Henry van Dyke using musical themes from the 9th Symphony Ode to Joy.
The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra and University of Santo Tomas Singers Alumni, conducted by Robert Shroder, perform Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee by Beethoven, arranged by Fr. Manuel Maramba, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California.

The text for this version can be found here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

6/9 Für Elise on Guitar (Twice)

I can't believe I haven't featured a guitar version of Für Elise on this blog yet.  It's such a ubiquitous piece I suppose I avoided it on purpose for most of this past year.  Well anyways, here are 2 wonderful arrangements on guitar performed by 2 excellent

Transcribed and performed by by Fredrik (FreddeGredde) Larsson:


A more "liberated" performance by


(FYI: Taking a break from Thursday analysis for a few weeks)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

6/8 Beethoven's Homework: Correcting Mozart

As part of his compositional studies (which he continued his entire life) Beethoven would copy out works such as this one, Mozart's Fugue in C Minor, KV 426.  The interesting thing here is that he made some "corrections" - as well as some "mistakes".  The Unheard Beethoven site has a midi file of B.'s corrected/messed up version of Mozart's most difficult fugue -and so I rendered it in a "Beethoven 360" soundfont....

From The Unheard Beethoven's description:

Copy of Mozart's Fugue in C minor, KV.426, Hess 37 (Date of Beethoven's version unknown). Without any doubt, Mozart's Fugue in C minor for two pianos, KV.426, is one of the greatest fugues ever written since the death of J.S.Bach. A staggering amount of canonic devices is let loose on the fugue's main subject, while maintaining a remarkable clarity of texture, demonstrating Mozart's total control of counterpoint. At the same time the music is pervaded with a holy anger one expects of a Beethoven, rather than a Mozart. In short, Mozart combines in this unique masterpiece Bach's intellectual techniques with Beethoven's deep passion. It's therefore important to realize that Beethoven not only knew Mozart's fugue, but even made a copy of it in his own handwriting. We must assume he was impressed by this work. It's somewhat surprising that, as far as we know, Beethoven never attempted to compose a similar fugue himself. There are 36 minor deviations in the copy compared to Mozart's original, most of them mere slips of the pen. Yet there are also several improvements by Beethoven...


Since today has a kind of "pedagogical" theme, here's Yvonne Lefébure teaching how to play Beethoven: (Piano Sonatas 31, 32 (Op. 110, 111))

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

6/7 The Elegiac Song (3 Versions)

Beethoven's Elegischer Gesang Op. 118 has the unusual instrumentation of chorus and string quartet.  Though it's more commonly performed with a a string orchestra these days, it was originally scored with a quartet in mind and the video below features just that.

The Elegiac Song was composed during the summer of 1814 in memory of Eleanore von Pasqualati, the wife of Baron Johann (Beethoven's frequent and favorite landlord beginning in 1804), who had died in childbirth three years earlier. Her music-loving husband, the Empress Maria Theresia's physician, not only tolerated Beethoven's obsessive-compulsive changes of residence but made him feel a member of the family. We don't know who wrote the words, originally assigned to four singers and string quartet and later reworked for small chorus and string orchestra without double-basses. The music, which raises its voice only on the words "himmlischen Geistes," is indubitably the heartfelt product of its composer; its brevity alone is the reason we hear it so seldom in concert. 

(Actually Allmusic's info may be a bit out of date since I've read from other sources that Op.118 was still in sketch phase in 1814 and that modern scholars actually think the vocal group was originally for chorus, not 4 soloists.  The text was possibly written by Ignaz Franz von Castelli.)

Sanft, wie du lebtest, 
hast du vollendet, 
zu heilig für den Schmerz!
Kein Auge wein' ob 
des himmlischen Geistes Heimkehr.
Gently, as you lived,
have you died,
too holy for sorrow!
Let no eye shed tears
for the spirit's heavenly homecoming.

Elegischer Gesang Op. 118
Emory Mastersingers , Jonathan Arnold, conductor
VEGA String Quartet, 3/27/2011


In keeping with the idea that no one is exactly sure what the instrumentation is supposed to be for this work I took the liberty of sequencing a version for guitar and winds (HERE), as well as a version for piano and winds (HERE).

Monday, June 6, 2011

6/6 The Other Symphony in C Minor

YOUNG BEETHOVEN (Lladró Porcelain Figures) 
One of my favorite finds on the Unheard Beethoven site is the early Symphony in C minor which Beethoven sketched but never completed.  Composed while still in Bonn, this sketch exists mainly as a piano score, but with markings for future orchestration.  In any case, it stands with the early Piano Quartet WoO. 36 as some of my favorite early Beethoven.  I have no idea why this is not more well known...

The Unheard Beethoven site features a midi version using full orchestration, completed by Willem, but I've never had much luck with full-symphony midi files.  So what I did here is to condense this completion back into piano score (in the video below), though I kept the timpani part.

Symphony Movement in C minor, Hess 298. (1791/93). orchestrated and completed
Midi Author: xickx
(The Unheard Beethoven)
"The Hess 298 sketch can be found in the Kafka Sketchbook, which is in the British Library. The heading reads: Sinfonia, and the tempo indication is Presto. It is in 3/4 time. The 111 bars long sketch is written on two staves, as if for piano. We have therefore not only the main melody, but also the bassline, which indicates unambiguously the intended harmonies. Once, in bar 91, there is an indication regarding the orchestration: obo[e]. Following this big chunk there are two little snippets, one 9 bars, the other 5 bars long. Clearly Beethoven intended to write a movement in Sonata form: the sketch covers the larger part of the expostion, with a first theme in C minor (bar 1), a transition (bar 68) and a second theme in the parallel key of E flat major (bar 86). The sketch breaks off halfway the second theme group.
"As is clear from the state in which Beethoven has left the sketch, it is impossible to complete this movement without the addition of extra material. A completion can therefore never claim to be authentic. It should be stressed that the aim of such a completion is to merely provide a framework which places the notes as written by Beethoven in an appropriate context, so that they can be judged and enjoyed as real music."

Willem's orchestrated version can be found here.  A midi of Beethoven's original sketch can be found here.

My reduction of Willem's orchestral arrangement to piano and timpani is below:


Sunday, June 5, 2011

6/5 Lieder Redux 2 (More Clarinet and Guitar Arrangements)

Yesterday I featured my sequenced arrangements of some of Beethoven's song lieder in the form of guitar and clarinet duos.  This time I cover some of my favorite lieder without Opus numbers:

1. WoO 116 Que le temps me dure (How slowly time passes) 2 Versions

2. WoO 118 Seufzer eines Ungeliebten - Gegenlieb (Sigh of one who is unloved - Love returned)

3. Some Short Songs w/o Opus numbers:
  • WoO 125 La tiranna (The tyranny) (0:04)
  • Hess 133 Das Liebe Katzchen (The Dear Kitten) (2:30)
  • WoO 142 Der Bardengeist (The Bardic spirit) (2:56)
  • WoO 117 Der freie Mann (The free Man) (3:34)
4. WoO.131 Erlkoenig 

5. WoO 134 Sehnsucht (Longing)


(Postcard images from

Saturday, June 4, 2011

6/4 Lieder Redux (Clarinet and Guitar Arrangements)

Recently I've been having some more fun with sequencing Beethoven compositions - this time rearranging vocal lieder from the original piano and voice instrumentation into guitar and clarinet duos.  Why?  The fact that I don't sing or play piano (tho I do play guitar and clarinet) may have something to do with it...Nonetheless I find these versions can provide additional appreciation for the melodies that Beethoven worked into the various texts he put to music.

Lieder Redux Playlist 1 (Works with Opus Numbers)
An Die Hoffnung Op.32
Adelaide, Op.46
6 Songs Op.48
  • - No.1 Bitten (Entreaty) (0:02)
  • - No.2 Die Liebe des Nachsten (Love of one's neighbor) (1:06)
  • - No.3 Vom Tode (Of Death) (1:53)
  • - No.4 Die Ehre Gottes aus de Natur (The Glory of God in nature) (3:59)
  • - No.5 Gottes Macht und Vorsehung (God's power and providence) (5:24)
  • - No.6 Busslied (Song of penance) (5:57)
8 Songs, Op.52
  • - No.1 Urians Reise um die Welt (Urian's voyage round the world) (0:02)
  • - No.2 Feuerfarb (The color of flame) (0:45)
  • - No.3 Das Liedchen von der Ruhe (The Little song about peace) (1:43)
  • - No.4 Maigesang (Maying Song) (2:36)
  • - No.5 Mollys Abschied (Molly's Departure) 4:38)
  • - No.6 Die Liebe (Love) (5:08)
  • - No.7 Marmotte (5:52)
  • - No.8 Das Blümchen Wunderhold (The Little flower wondrous fair) (6:24)
6 Songs Op.75
  • - No.1 Kennst du das Land (Do you know the land) (0:01)
  • - No.2 Neue Liebe, neues Leben (New love new life) (3:15)
  • - No.3 Aus Goethes Faust (Mephisto's Flohlied/Song of the flea) (6:09)
  • - No.4 Gretels Warnung (Gretel's warning) (8:05)
  • - No.5 An den fernen Geliebten (To the distant beloved) (9:25)
  • - No.6 Der Zufriedene (The Contented man) (10:20)
3 Songs, Op. 83
  • - 1. Wonne der Wehmut (Joy of Sadness) (0:01)
  • - 2. Sehnsucht (Longing) (2:08)
  • - 3. Mit einem gemalten Band (With a painted ribbon) (3:57)
Songs 1803-1822
  • -  Arietta Op.82, No.1 Hoffnung (1809) (Tell Me Dearest, That You Love Me..) (0:01)
  • - Op.84 Egmont: Clarchen's Song: 'Freudvoll und leidvoll' (1810) (Joy and Sorrow) (1:40)
  • - Op.88 Das Glück der Freundschaft (1803)(The Good Fortune of Friendship)(3:03)
  • - Op.99 Der Mann von Wort (1816)(A man of his word)(5:04)
  • - Op.100 Merkenstein (1816)(6:30)
  • - Op.128 Ariette (Der Kuss/The Kiss) (1822)(6:54)


Friday, June 3, 2011

6/3 Phan's Freestyle Pathetique

I've featured different kinds of dance accompaniments to Beethoven before (1/15 Quartet with Obbligato Dancers and 4/22 Ballet & Beethoven) but this video features yet another approach: improvised "freestyle" dancing in a completely unpremeditated situation between a classical performance of Beethoven's Pathetique and Shawn Phan's "street style" dancing...apparently Beethoven is quite alive and well.  Phat.

"STORY: I walked into a classroom with a guy that was playing classical music. I was never a fan of that genre but for some wanted to dance to it. I asked him if he wanted to JAM and he said, "I'm down." He chose a song I never heard of but that's the cool thing about the art of freestyle and being on the spot and in the moment. One take.
Shawn Phan   Beatrockers"


Thursday, June 2, 2011

6/2 Piano Sonata 12 (Color Analysis)

(Artwk by Chocolate-Cocoa)
Continuing visual breakdowns of Beethoven's piano sonatas... 

 Piano Sonata #12 In Ab, Op.26, "Funeral March" (1801)

- 1. Andante Con Variazioni (starting from 0:04)
- 2. Scherzo: Allegro Molto (starting from 6:44)
- 3. Marcia Funebre Sulla Morte D'Un Eroe (starting from 9:34)
- 4. Allegro (starting from 15:03)

The audio for this analysis was generated from a midi file originally sequenced by Bunji Hisamori in 1999.  I took that file and "spread" the notes so that listening to this on headphones will give a very distinct spacial distinction between the low voices and the high voices.  In other words, it sounds like you're sitting in front of the piano, with low notes on the right and higher notes going towards the right.  I'm calling this "Beethoven 360".  

CHANNEL LINK (Click here to see this video on my YT Channel. Once there, click on "(more info)" and then you can view the video in place, while scrolling through the text below)

Movement I. Andante Con Variazioni
Theme (GREEN)
Variation 1 (GREEN 1)
Variation 2 (GREEN 2)
Variation 3 (GREEN 3)
Variation 4 (GREEN 4)
Variation 5 (GREEN 5)
Coda (BROWN)

Movement II. - Scherzo: Allegro Molto
Part A
1st Part (GREEN)
2nd Part (BLUE)
3rd Part (PURPLE)
2nd Part (BLUE)
3rd Part (PURPLE)
Trio  (MAROON)
Part A Repeat
1st Part (GREEN)
2nd Part (BLUE)
3rd Part (PURPLE)

Movement III. - Marcia Funebre Sulla Morte D'Un Eroe
March (BLUE)
March Reprise (BLUE)

Movement IV. - Allegro (RONDO ABACABA)
1st Theme (I) (BLUE)
2nd Theme (V) (GREEN)
1st Theme (BLUE)
3rd Theme (Development) (iii) (PURPLE)
1st Theme (BLUE)
2nd Theme (I) (GREEN)

(Assisted by Donald Tovey's in depth analysis)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

6/1 Röder's Electro-Acoustic Beethoven Cadenza

As someone with a background in electro-acoustic music, I was quite excited to hear about this project: pianist Seda Röder performs an original piano-&-electronics cadenza as part of a performance of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical that it could work - but I can honestly say Ms. Röder pulled it off beautifully!  The trill going into the "modern" section was a stroke of brilliance.

From the video description:
In this video, New Music Pianist Seda Röder improvises the first-ever electro-acoustic cadenza for a classical concerto! Röder, who specializes on bringing contemporary music to new audiences, says that "the public at Beethoven's time would expect the soloist to improvise in the cadenzas. I wanted to do the same, but in a style that is my own and entirely modern." To turn this vision into reality, Seda worked together with Mexican composer Edgar Barroso who provided her with an electro-acoustic framework that she could use for her improvisations. When Röder was approached by Harvard conductor Hanjay Wang with the suggestion to perform with the orchestra of the Harvard-Radcliffe Chinese Students Association, the unusual idea finally came to life!  Please visit the artist's website to find out more about this very special project:
Seda Röder improvizes first-ever electro-acoustic cadenza for a classical concerto
Piano Concerto 5 Cadenza by Seda Röder and Edgar Barroso