Beethoven Was A Rock Star

I hope this week’s introduction has been beneficial for you and helped you and your kids explore some great music. We’ve discovered how all music is a reflection of our world, how classical music is still being made today, and how it frequently tells a story.

Overall, music is abstract art, however. The melody you heard in the last post that represented the Swan might as easily represent a graceful elephant, we only think one way because Camille Saint-Saens gave names to each movement. 

To some degree, this is simply how our minds work when it comes to music. We want some clarity when we listen to music so we create connections between the sounds and our world around us.

I want to help you dive a little deeper into some great classical music this week and get some Beethoven in your ears. The first is the 3rd movement from his 3rd Symphony. This is a fast movement and not too long so kids just starting listening to classical music will be able to sit through it. 

Interesting enough, the 3rd symphony is titled the “Eroica” or “Heroic” Symphony. This title was a compromise Beethoven made with the publisher. He originally wanted to name it Bonaparte after Napolean Bonapart, one of the most controversial people of his day. Knowing this we start to hear some of the bold characteristics of Napolean in the music and the symphony is a bit easier to understand.

The second piece I want to introduce to you is the Piano Sonata No. 23 by Beethoven. This is one of my absolute favorite piano sonatas and I hope you enjoy it. As a teenager, this is one of the pieces that inspired me to study music. When Beethoven originally performed and published this Sonata it was simply just called, “Sonata No. 23 in F Minor.” Boring! 

After Beethoven died, the publisher wanted to sell more copies so they gave it a title. They called it the ”Appassionata,” which is Italian for “passionate” and it certainly is filled with musical passion. I have put the 3rd movement in the playlist. This is the part that is big, dramatic and certainly exciting. Think of this as the final song of a rock concert. The band wants to walk off stage after leaving a big impression on the audience so they will go buy their music and t-shirts. Beethoven wanted nothing less.

One of the most surprising and interesting things happens towards the end of this movement. Beethoven speeds up the tempo and introduces a new theme. Most composers would never have done that or even thought about it. But not Beethoven. He knew how to thrill his audiences. I even imagine that people were wildly cheering as Beethoven stood up and bowed after the final notes. This is the best of rock and roll in the early 1800s. Enjoy!