Beethoven ‘used salsa rhythms in his 5th symphony’

Beethoven ‘used salsa rhythms in his 5th symphony’


norman lebrecht

October 24, 2016

It’s a theory, no more ridiculous than some of the HIP hypotheses.

The arranger is Sverre Indris Joner.


  • John Borstlap says:

    If every piece of the ‘canonic repertoire’ will be updated like this, surely the missing crowds of young people will flock to the concert halls. I can imagine the Ring getting a new audience in this way.

    • Maria says:

      So the youthful revolution supposedly started by Waldo de los Rios in the 1970s (and probably by one or two others since whose names I’ve forgotten) didn’t work?

      Ah well – keep on trying.

  • MysticalPianist says:

    @John Borstlap Unfortunately the solution to getting a younger generation to the concert halls is not so easy, I suspect. There has to be a big change all the way from music theorists who write about music but are not very skilled at playing an instrument themselves, and some instrumentals who perform more like music theorists than performing artists. Modern composers can’t just write for elitists. As a classical musician myself, I’m turned off somewhat when some modern composers have an attitude that seems to condescend against a layperson’s natural reaction to their works.

    Sverre Indris Joner’s is entertaining but unfortunately, this type of approach won’t work in the long run. What he is doing is imposing Beethoven’s structure in his samba arrangement. Also, the orchestral sound of Beethoven gets transformed into something more jazz-like. Something like this may work once or twice. But I suspect if more and more people arrange classical music and force it into a different structure, people may get tired of this process and find it irritating. Just my two cents.

  • John says:

    Is it any more ridiculous than those feminists who insist Bach’s wife wrote the cello suites? Surely not.

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

      Agreed. The “rule” that if a copyist was female then she must have been the composer is as true the earth is a disc. And Albert Einstein once said: “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe.”

    • flipthefrog says:

      Men taking the credits for their wife’s work does happen – one example is the painter Margaret Keane (not exactly Beethoven, I know). She successfully sued her ex husband for claiming her godawful paintings were his work, and stealing millions of dollars in profits – the story was told in the Tim Burton movie Big Eyes. I’m pretty certain that there have been many similar cases through the ages, though we should probably leave Mrs Bach out of it

    • Db says:

      “Those feminists”… Just one crazy musicolologist who has nothing particularly feminist about him.

  • David Osborne says:

    This one beat it by thirty years, and what’s more it’s been on the Simpsons…

  • Larry says:

    In 1977 Walter Murphy had a huge disco hit called “A Fifth Beethoven.”

    But, along the same subject, I’ve always felt that the second theme in the last movement of the Beethoven First Piano Concerto sounds an awful lot like “Tico Tico,” the old Andrews Sisters hit song. Start at 37:17 on this video

  • Andrew Condon says:

    Beethoven was also quite good at boogie-woogie – 100 years ahead of his time. (variation movement of op 111)

    • John Borstlap says:

      The difference between opus 111 and boogie-woogie being, that the former expresses nervous anguish and the latter rhythmic joy. Another difference is…. but I better stop now.

  • Mikey says:

    So other than the fact that they had to significantly alter Beethoven’s music to make it fit, this proves their point?

  • Mike Roberts says:

    There are some funky rhythms in Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto. Salsa? I wouldn’t know.

  • Doug says:


    That’s the sound of my lunch coming up from my stomach after seeing this.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    I expect WFMT to begin playing this soon. Today they played the Pachelbel canon which as we know is the sign of the coming apocalypse…

  • Ricardo says:

    Hey! It’s fun! 😀

  • herrera says:

    Admit it, isn’t this the real reason why people are drawn to Dudamel and the Venezuelan Sistema? The cute factor, the exotic factor, of seeing a bunch of young Latinos play Dead White Man music?

    • John Borstlap says:

      And don’t forget that a) they play it very well and b) audiences are often rewarded for their patience by smashing latino music at the end of the program.

  • Simon J Evnine says:

    Is John Borstlap still here ? There was a profile in The Economist last week of the cellist Steven Isserlis which says

    “Isserlis is refreshingly ready to slaughter the avant-garde’s sacred cows, dismissing the late Pierre Boulez—the biggest such beast—as having had a deleterious effect on musical life. “Now there’s room for everybody, every style,” he proclaims cheerfully. “There’s never been such a great age for new music.”

  • Eric says:

    Pretty cool, IMHO!

    Along the lines of Meco Menardo in the early 80’s doing a funk version of the 5th

  • Ondrey Danek says:

    What about Stefan Obermeier’s Beethoven Re:Loaded?