Saturday, 26 March 2016

REMEMBERING BEETHOVEN: DID YOU KNOW? / ALLEGRETTO: SYMPHONY NO. 7 IN A MAJOR

? December 1770 - March 26 1827

Today's Did You Know? trivia comes to us from one of the late classical-early romantic period's most prolific composers, Ludwig van Beethoven - in honor of his of highly influential and deliciously rich oeuvre, life and legacy. 

Did You Know?

Ludwig van Beethoven, whose life was observed Saturday (March 26, 2016) on the 189th anniversary of his death at Vienna in 1827, was, according to unsubstantiated legend, defiant to his last breath, with a near companion to the composer and fellow musician Anselm Hüttenbrenner offering a first hand account of his close friend’s passing in dramatic detail (as recounted by contemporary journalist and Beethoven biographer A.W. Thayer):
“At this startling, awful peal of thunder, the dying man suddenly raised his head from Hüttenbrenner's arm, stretched out his own right arm majestically—like a general giving orders to an army. This was but for an instant; the arm sunk back; he fell back; Beethoven was dead!”
A conclusive cause as to Beethoven’s death remains speculative, although the initial autopsy reports seemed to suggest advanced liver damage brought on by the late composers alleged alcoholism. DNA testing of biological material belonging to Beethoven has continued even until modern times. Unravelingmusicalmyths has discussed the iconic German’s demise at length: peruse the Beethoven Archives to learn more about the life and times of Ludwig, and of his fascinating post-mortem scientific journey.

Enjoy below the much beloved 
Allegretto from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 in A major, op. 92. This Symphony, Beethoven’s 7th, in particular it’s second movement proved so affecting to the audience at it’s premiere in December of 1813 (the audience was comprised of wounded soldiers from who had fought in the Battle of Hanau, and charitable patrons), that it had to be immediately encored. 
 Originally intended as grand show of gratitude for those killed and injured in the war,[1] the Allegretto in and of itself has become somewhat of a standalone piece in the West, and has become somewhat of a documentarian favorite: the allegretto can commonly be heard in present times in both independent and mainstream film, usually appearing when commemorating the death of a respected individual or loved one, or in honoring the nearing departed. The structure of the piece makes the symphony's second movement perfectly adaptable to almost any emotionally charged scene: it's string sections seeming at once both foreboding and majestic, as we will hear in the video below.
 
This version is performed by the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of maestro Herbert von Karajan, whose slower tempo (in contrast to versions performed under other conductors) is absolutely divine:




Footnotes: 

[1]Prior to the charity concert’s commencement, Beethoven (who was conducting) faced the audience and dedicated the work to the soldiers in attendance, proclaiming his solidarity thusly:
“We are moved by nothing but pure patriotism and the joyful sacrifice of our powers for those who have sacrificed so much for us."

-Rose.


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