Concert of November 2, 2015

Curiosities

 

WHO IS C.S. ?

You are listening to Nieder's composition Slow Dance of C.S. between mirrors. When asked who the person hiding behind the initials is, the author stated: Of course if I had wanted to reveal the name of this gentleman or lady (because C.S. could be either a woman or a man), I would have written the full name and surname. In the title of my work it is an enigmatic component, and I would like it to remain such. The riddle is somehow also a common feature throughout this piece of work: many signals are sent that I think are obvious to the public, but an enigmatic component should always be there, also because in reality music is enigmatic. It seems like a platitude but it's the truth: everything that is not a written word remains in an abstract, enigmatic dimension.

 

A GREAT CANON BETWEEN WOODWINDS, BRASS AND STRINGS

Slow dance of C.S. between mirrors is conceived as a great canon. In music a canon is a musical composition in which the same theme is played by a voice and then repeated, at different times, by other voices.  The composition of Nieder is a three-voice canon, where each voice is "played" by a family of instruments (woodwinds, brass and strings). This way you can listen to identical or similar musical phrases with a different timbre and colour. A good way to refine our musical ear ... enjoy!

 

NIEDER, ABOUT SLOW DANCE OF C.S. BETWEEN MIRRORS

(...) There is this mirror relation between slowness and speed, between darkness and heaviness (...) the orchestra itself feels involved in this dance on the edge of playability because piccolos play as fast as possible. Sometimes I write that the piccolos must try to get as close as possible to the prescribed tempo but it is humanly impossible, so there may be discrepancies that create tension between the conductor's score and the piccolos, which in part cannot follow the Conductor's tempo because it is too fast. The orchestra is therefore brought to play upwards and faster, so in the end this slow dance becomes less and less slow and less and less of a dance, (...) like a spiral spinning faster and faster, (...) like a heavy and big airplane going up and disappearing into the heights of the sky.

 

THE PREMIERE OF THE PREMIERE, WHAT A CONCERT!

The first performance of Beethoven's Symphony No.1 took place in Vienna on 2 April 1800 in a concert rich in compositions that began with a symphony by Mozart, followed by an aria from Haydn's Creation, a concerto for piano and orchestra and the Septet Op. 20 by Beethoven, a duet from Haydn's Creation, some improvisations at the piano by Beethoven and, to conclude, the big, new symphony for large orchestra. Critics welcomed the new Symphony No.1 with enthusiasm; here are some comments by the music critics journals of the time: "a lot of art, innovation and richness of ideas", "a masterful work of art in which an uncommon wealth of good ideas unfolds with splendour and grace and yet everywhere there is consistency, order, and light”

 

FROM MOZART TO BEETHOVEN

Count Waldstein is deemed to be the author of the famous note dedicated to Beethoven: "Dear Beethoven! You are going to Vienna in fulfilment of your long-frustrated wishes.  The Genius of Mozart is mourning and weeping over the death of her pupil. She found a refuge but no occupation with the inexhaustible Haydn; through him she wishes to form a union with another. With the help of assiduous labour you shall receive Mozart’s spirit from Haydn’s hands".

 

BEETHOVEN quotes

From Beethoven's letters

"To me there is no greater pleasure than to practice and exercise my art"

"I shall seize Fate by the throat; it shall certainly not bend and crush me completely."

"Oh, how beautiful it is to live - and live a thousand times over! I feel that I am not made for a quiet life."

 

BEETHOVEN ON THE WEB

The official website dedicated to Beethoven offers an almost complete overview of everything related to the composer: from scores to autographs, from paintings to books, from CDs to DVDs, everything can be viewed through an eye-catching video-guide of the different spaces of "Beethoven's House". The corner dedicated to children is captivating and well done; thanks to an animation worthy of a cartoon, children can learn more about all topics on the website.

 

THE THIRD LARGE AND "LONG" SYMPHONY

The Third Symphony is the longest of all the symphonies, with the exception of the Ninth. Beethoven himself wrote this note in the first edition of 1806, on the part of the concertmaster: "This symphony being deliberately longer than usual, must be played closer to the beginning rather than the end of a concert and shortly after an Overture, an Aria and a Concerto; so that, if heard too late, it does not lose, for the listener, who is already tired from previous productions, its own, proposed effect".

 

TO NAPOLEON, YES OR NO?

Ferdinand Ries, pupil, friend and then biographer of the composer, wrote:

"Speaking of this Symphony Beethoven had thought of Napoleon, but until he was still First Consul. Beethoven had great esteem of him and compared him to the greatest Roman consuls. I, as well as several of his closest friends, had seen on his desk this symphony already written in the score and on the frontispiece at the top there was written the word "Bonaparte" and down below, "Ludwig van Beethoven" and nothing else. Whether the space in the middle was going to be filled or not and with what, that I do not know. I was the first to inform him that Napoleon had proclaimed himself emperor, to which he had a temper tantrum and said: "He, too, is nothing more than an ordinary man.  Now he will trample on all human rights and will only satisfy his own ambition; he will place himself higher than all others, he will become a tyrant!" He went to his desk, grabbed the frontispiece, tore it and threw it on the ground".

 

YES, A SYMPHONY FOR NAPOLEON!

Anton Felix Schindler, Beethoven's first biographer, said that afterwards the composer became more lenient towards Napoleon in whom he saw nothing but a wretched man worthy of compassion, like Icarus who fell from the sky. When he learnt about the catastrophe of St. Helena, in 1821, he commented: “It's been 17 years now since I wrote the music that perfectly fits this sad event”. Indeed, he considered the Funeral March of his Eroica Symphony as a foreboding of the tragic end of the conqueror.

From Life of Beethoven by Romain Rolland

 

ILLUSTRIOUS FUNERALS

The Funeral March of the Eroica has accompanied the funeral of many illustrious personalities from the worlds of music and not only. Sergei Koussevitzky conducted it at the funeral of US President Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 (photo); Victor De Sabata, on the podium of the Orchestra of La Scala, performed it on Toscanini's death in 1957. The Funeral March, performed by the Munich Philharmonic under the direction of Rudolf Kempe, also opened the memorial service for the death of Israeli athletes killed during the Olympic Games in Monaco in September 1972.

 

BEETHOVEN AT THE CINEMA

The movie business has always liked Beethoven: the first film, Eroica directed by Walter Kolm-Veltée, is dated 1949; in 1962, Walt Disney created a fiction on the life of Beethoven titled The Magnificent Rebel and in 1994 the film written and directed by Bernard Rose was released, with Gary Oldman playing the famous composer: Immortal Beloved.

 

 
Listening guide by musicologist Giovanni Bietti - concert of 2 November

Browse the libretto

Fabio Nieder

Read the biography

Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and TIM present PappanoinWeb