alan little’s weblog

beethoven week

12th April 2005 permanent link

BBC Radio 3 has a Beethoven Week in June, in which they will be playing all hundred-plus hours worth of Beethoven’s published works. I shall be making sure I have plenty of disk space free and giving Audio Hijack a thorough workout.

Only a hundred-and-something hours? The entire published output of a man who probably heard music in his head almost every waking moment? A hundred-and-something hours distilled from how many tens of thousands of hours of drafting, improvisation, rehearsals and concerts?

iTunes informs me that my music collection features over two hundred recordings of pieces of music by Beethoven. That doesn’t mean I’ve heard all hundred-plus hours of Beethoven’s published works, by any means. I have several recordings of all the string quartets and most of the piano sonatas and symphonies (including sixteen of the Eroica), and these are all worth hearing played many different ways. Whereas one recording of the Choral Fantasy is arguably one too many – except perhaps as a reminder that Beethoven, despite all the string quartets and most of the piano sonatas and symphonies, was not some kind of god-like infallible genius.

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