Thursday, January 25, 2007

Shadow of a God

The other day, my friend and I heard the first movement of Beethoven's 8th Symphony. My friend suddenly blurted out, "I hate this movement; such meager melodic material." I was stunned. Yet, I was not stunned that he hated the movement, rather that he would admit it. I have always found this to be one of Beethoven's weakest orchestral movements, but I have never told a soul.

I'm normally proud to be a critical thinker. What is it about this piece that kept me in the closet? Could it be that some of us are still intimidated by Beethoven as God of the Symphony, just like so many angst-ridden 19th-century composers who struggled to carry on the genre? [Pictured is Max Klinger's 1902 Beethoven Memorial sculpture in Leipzig, showing Beethoven as Zeus.]

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