|08-31-2007, 04:17 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The South
Music that can free you from the troubles of life.
That's what Beethoven said in an aside during a performance of his last and greatest symphony the Ninth, which some critics regarded as in bad taste--putting a choir and soloists with orchestra for the fourth and final movement.
Beethoven said that anybody who could understand his music would be free forever from the troubles and sorrows of life as they'd acquire a transcendental understanding of reality and in his opinion the source, the mind behind that reality.
Just wondering what some of the classical music fans out there think about this statement of his and who they'd regard as the greatest composer of all time. Three names pop up continually when this question is asked: Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. Bach was not regarded so highly while living--his son C.P.E Bach was regarded as the greater of the two and his book on keyboard technique regarded as the summum bonum of keyboard theory and technique. However, Felix Mendelssohn had a big part in the Bach revival and the recognition of Bach's place in music as one of the creme de la creme of composers. Regarded as the supreme technician and counterpoint genius beyond all. His Art of Fugue is the ultimate in Baroque theory.
And then there is Mozart, a Freemason in good standing, wearer of powdered wigs, and something of a dandy. Like Bach, Mozart had a good love life and was married. Bach had more children than any composer of high status! It was said of Mozart after he died that the world lost a genius the likes of which may never reappear. Mozart himself described how he heard the music in his head but his command of music was insufficient to capture the gorgeous and transcendental music that he regarded as of the angels in heaven. He described it as singing (sort of) except the vocal range was greater than the 88 keys of a standard piano, and the quality of voices was in some cases flute like in other cases like a drum or violin or harp. It was indescribable. I have heard this music myself, as somehow, someway I learned how to tap into God only knows what. My description parallels Mozart's. My command of music is totally insufficient to capture but an insignificant facsimile of what I hear at times. It is so overwhelming that it is very difficult to remain in that mental state more than 30 minutes or so without suffering some really odd effects.
As far as Mozart's popularity in his day goes, he was a child prodigy who played before kings and queens and high nobility and was the rage of all Europe (at least until the novelty wore off). At the time of his death, Mozart was penniless and was buried in a pauper's grave [mass grave for indigents, homeless and those who could not afford a proper church burial, coffin and whatnot).
And then there's Beethoven, a real rascal. A dirty slob, mean tempered, short-fused, bitter and deprived. Beethoven also ended his days in abject poverty. He would likely have died years before but a few patrons and benefactors who had not abandoned the deaf Beethoven in his maturity paid for his food and living expenses beyond the paltry amounts made teaching piano and selling his music. He would wear his clothes until they literally would fall into rages. In one instance, a few friends could not abide the Maestro's appearance and cleaned him up and threw away his old clothes and provided brand new clothes for him. He himself would likely have objected, so they did it as a surprise. Nobody ever discovered who his one true love was, although there are theories abounding. A strange and short letter that had not been mailed was discovered among his odds and ends that was addressed to his "Immortal Beloved". A movie about this fact of Beethoven's life was rather speculative to say the least and picked a rather poor contender for the throne. Most suspect one of the three or so countesses to whom he had dedicated several of his sonatas is the likely lady.
Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata written late in his life is perhaps his grandest work for the piano and has a difficulty comparable to his piano concertos.
In my own opinion, perhaps because I, a composer myself, have a personality similar to Beethoven's and less like Bach the master worker or Mozart the prodigy, show off and ladies man, would have to pick Beethoven as the greatest composer of all time, the greatest musical genius the world has ever known, or likely ever will. But the top three contenders are so close in greatness that picking one of the three is almost entirely impossible.
My own personal favorite is the half Polish, half French Frederic Chopin, whose shy introspective but gorgeous harmonies on the piano have never been surpassed.
Well enough of this. I'm a real buff on the lives of the composers and the history of music in the west and how the Baroque and Classical music that is known today evolved slowly from church and liturgical music of the Middle Ages. It is interesting that the Baroque period was influenced heavily by the popular styles of the day, the music regarded by church officials who controlled everything as "unworthy", "worthless" and in all likelihood a sin just to listen to, or dance to that garbage!
Oy Vay! Now you know why my own website is called "musicofthegods". Like the others, I vainly attempt to capture a tiny fragment of what I hear almost constantly in my head at any time I'm not busy with the mundane affairs of life.
Sorry for being so verbose. Sincerely Yurshta (J.R. Moore)
|09-06-2007, 05:07 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Ba and Be.
Join Date: May 2007
Location: This Is England
--My own personal favorite is the half Polish, half French Frederic Chopin, whose shy introspective but gorgeous harmonies on the piano have never been surpassed.--
Amen to that. A piano note sounds the same no matter who plays it, yet a guitar note can sound different everytime due to f/x etc, so If a piano piece blows me away, then it is something special. Chopin is my favourite composer by far.
“A cynic by experience, a romantic by inclination and now a hero by necessity.”
|09-07-2007, 09:32 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The South
There's a reason for the fact you mentioned.
This is not the case for instruments like the violin or guitar. In reality an Eb is not exactly the same as a D# or C# not the same as Db. The piano cannot differentiate between these two close sounds. One theory including quarter tones described a 72 tone scale which is far to complicated to be usable by anyone anytime anywhere. Hindu music definitely differentiates between these subtle tones and uses a scale much more complex than the full piano Chromatic or 12 tone scale. The violinist and guitarist can slide notes and bend them somewhat, just as a good singer bringing out subtle variations, so that no performance of the same piece ever sounds exactly the same even when done by the same artist.
That's just the way the piano and other keyboard instruments like organ are set up. The average tuning was developed largely by J.S. Bach.
There is an interesting website out there if I can remember the name about voice chanting or the Buddhist practice of singing more than one note at the same time during religious chants. Done properly the human voice can create overtones which sound simultaneously with the fundamental tone for an effect that many describe as otherworldly. I forget right now the name of the website where an American woman if I remember right spent time in Tibet and learned "throat singing" or whatever she called it. Some tracks of her
creating vocal harmonics are on her website. If I can remember it later, I'll post the link here.
Creating harmonics on the piano is possible where heavy chords are played with full pedalling effects. Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# minor which is so well known is the best example of creating overtones or harmonics on the piano. It has been named (not by the composer) The Bells of Moscow because of this fact. Rachmaninoff's trademark was perhaps his huge chords sometimes each hand playing six notes at one time (a little pianistic trick any pianist learns sooner or later.)
According to this lady's website modern (Western) music is actually completely out of sync and out of tune which causes deplorable effects on the minds of the listeners. To some extent this is true esp. of the piano, but not so of the violin or guitar or similar instruments. The piano's version of say D#, Eb in reality is averaged so is not exactly EITHER. So the piano is definitely an instrument that is always out of tune if you want to be technical about it.
The "deplorable" effects on the spirituality of Western man she described are beyond my ability to comprehend as I, for one, do not recognize the "spiritual" realm as usually understood: supernatural blah blah. However grand music can be in the hands of a master performer, the performance is down to earth physical. All of music is essentially creating sound waves in air. No air, no music except inside one's mind, and that music is largely reconstructed from memory traces.
As for whatever I heard those few times in deep meditation, that strange otherworldly music that was indescribable both in beauty and complexity, I have no answer for that. I was taping into something, where the deepest core of myself, or something otherwise, but I don't know what. It's best to remain agnostic where insufficient data is available.