I can't believe it almost slipped by without notice.
"Winter Concert" of 1808, when Ludwig Von Beethoven unveiled and conducted, for the very first time:
The Fourth Piano Concerto
The Fifth Symphony
The Sixth Symphony
The Violin Concerto in D
Most of you know the two symphonies. Arguably his best in many ways. Lyrical, evocative, filled with color and imagery and drama. Certainly more measured and less tinged in overweening ego than the glorious Ninth. They, alone, would have made that debut concert an event for the ages.
But the Fourth Piano Concerto is just as wondrous, as beautiful and awe inspiring as the symphonies.
As for the Violin Concerto...?
Matters of art are subjective, of course. But I deem Beethoven's Violin Concerto to be the greatest work of music ever conceived by Man.
How could such an event go by, unremarked at the time... and its bicentennial barely noted, even today? That question is almost as fascinating as: how were people able to sit still for so long in one place, even to experience such beauty? Dang, they must have had iron bottoms. And -- in an era without recordings -- they must have really hungered for music.
Twenty years ago, I began a time travel story, about a famed cellist from the future who travels back to sneak into Beethoven's 1808 orchestra. Like all my other time travel stories, it remains unfinished. In this case, because - despite having played violin in orchestras, in my youth, and having sung in a semi-pro chorale group - I simply know too little musicology to do the story justice. I'd need JUST the right collaborator... alas.
Still, I can't believe the bicentennial almost went by.
Well, SOMEBODY must have noticed. Because last night, getting in my car after seeing Kim Stanley Robinson and Geoff Ryman do wonderful readings at Sheldon Brown's SCALABLE CITY event, I tuned into NPR and found them playing a terrific version of the 4th Piano Concerto, with some of the best cadenzas I've heard. And I got to wave my arms, conducting it, all the way home.
Oh, but art never stops!
Tune in to "my" latest episode of the ongoing History Channel show The Universe, entitled "Alien Faces," and produced by John Greenwald. It will premier this Tuesday night, December 09th at 9:00pm!
See a preview. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1RSZDtm8Zw