Am I missing the point (2)?

Kids being told to be like Beethoven.

Like: irascible, misanthropic, unwashed and an ego to die from?

From New Bedofrd Symphony Orchestra: ‘We would like to share this exciting video with you that shows our Education Director Terry Wolkowicz’s original approach to teaching young students about Beethoven’s music, and through it – about recycling. It is very impressive to hear children this age use terms such as retrograde and inversion.’


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  • fflambeau says:

    I think the whole idea is to knock down the stale image of classical music as only for stuffed shirts. It’s a good idea. Beethoven was an original, a rebel, he was not Joseph Haydn.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Haydn was a great original as well, and did not need to rebel to become one.

      • fflambeau says:

        Haydn original? Do you know how many pieces “written by him” actually were done by others? Have you ever listened to his “masterpiece”, The Creation, which sounds like his God was on quaaludes? Haydn did as he was told, and loved it, Beethoven didn’t.

        And by the way, Beethoven said of Haydn he didn’t learn anything from him. A more damning statement cannot be said from a student to a teacher.

        • Pianofortissimo says:

          I suspect that most of the SD readers have listened to The Creation, and that they do not agree with you.

          • fflambeau says:

            I heard it performed live in Dresden and the German audience within 2 minutes starting whispering, then talking aloud, and then walked out. It’s that bad. And for all those who “do not agree with me”, how does it sell record-wise?

        • Haydn70 says:

          Your ignorance is breathtaking. But don’t let that stop you from continuing to post your idiocies.

        • John Borstlap says:

          A comment revealing some ignorance about some basic facts. Haydn was the composer who developed the classical symphony, from the diverse and incoherent sources of his time, and he did the same with the string quartet, which gave Mozart and Beethoven the means and the ideal to emulate (which Mozart did with his 6 ‘Haydn Quartets’, and which led Beethoven to return to H’s style here and there in his late quartets). Haydn’s piano sonatas are, in general, more interesting and subtle than Mozart’s sonatas. Haydn developed the subtle orchestral writing for the then new orchestral forces: he could freely experiment with structure and scoring at Esterhazy and as such inspired similar efforts by Mozart and Beethoven and many others, now forgotten. Haydn invented the then new classical style and was therefore the most original of the three classical composers. Whether he was the greatest, is another question altogether. Beethoven struggled all his life with immense, superhuman efforts (as can be seen from his numerous sketches) to overcome Haydn’s and Mozart’s influence and to ‘outdo’ them, which was a herculean feat and probably further undermined his health. To be as original as Haydn, and as good as Mozart, and to go beyond what they had already done, was a project beyond the imagination of anybody at the time (and much later as well).

          • fflambeau says:

            Wrong, entirely wrong: “Haydn was the composer who developed the classical symphony… .” There were many composers who contributed to the development of the classical symphony, and Haydn was just one. In fact, most scholars see the symphony as developing from 3 areas: Milan, Vienna, and Mannheim.

            Giovanni Battista Sammartini (c. 1700 – 15 January 1775) an Italian composer was but one early predecessor. And interestingly enough, Haydn appears to have copied from him (although he denied that, of course).

            Nor was “Papa” Haydn the father of the string quartet. Influential in its development yes, its founder, no. Well before Haydn alighted on the genre there had been several spasmodic examples of divertimenti for two solo violins, viola and cello by Viennese composers such as Georg Christoph Wagenseil and Ignaz Holzbauer; and there had long been a tradition of performing orchestral works with one instrument to a part.

            In fact, most experts in music trace the string quartet even farther back to the Baroque trio sonata. And Haydn had nothing to do with this too.

            To say that Haydn “inspired” Beethoven is insipid: Beethoven himself said “I learned nothing from Haydn.” His God was Handel, not Haydn.

            To put Haydn in the class of Mozart and Beethoven shows your bias and yes, ignorance of the development of classical music.

          • John Borstlap says:

            I know, it’s all difficult isn’t it?

            The composers you mention, are the ‘incoherent sources’ I mentioned, including the baroque forms. They did not create the synthesis that Haydn created, and the style of textural writing which was followed by Mozart and Beethoven.

            Beethoven’s greatest wish when young, was to study with Haydn who was at the time the most internationally-famous composer. But Haydn did not have much time for Beethoven en B was understandably disappointed. It is all in the extensive biographical literature and analysis.

            Beethoven probably also played for Mozart, when young, which however has not been confirmed. But after M’s death, his music got much more famous and wide-spread and performed, so M was a ‘posthumous’ competition. Beethoven’s awareness of his reputation in relation to these two, Haydn and Mozart, is clearly documented. And when he was sent to Vienna when young, his sponsor count Waldstein wrote to Beethoven: “By means of assiduous labor you will recieve the spirit of Mozart from the hands of Haydn”, them being the greatest stars at the musical firmament at the time, of which the centre was Vienna. There always was a strong narrative of expectation around Beethoven from early on, related to both Haydn and Beethoven.

            Beethoven hardly ever mentioned his great rivals, wishing to define his independency as much as possible. Handel and Bach, which he mentioned regularly, did not pose such threat. B’s reputation was very strong, but he also had many enemies and competition from other directions. So, cultivating his own artistic profile was important.

          • fflambeau says:

            I must apologize. How foolish of me not to see Joseph Haydn as the Ur-Father.

            As the late archaeologist, Sir Louis Leakey told his biographers while digging at Olduvai Gorge, “Mary and I were going to call the fossils, Australo-Haydn until we realized that Haydn was the father of everything but human children. So, we settled on the more prosaic Australopithecus.”

            But glory may be found elsewhere. As everyone knows (and as related by countless classical music DJ’s) Joseph Haydn is the Father of Modern Physics. That is because Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany. Haydn, of course, not only spoke German, but is regarded as the Father of Ulm, hence by irrefutable logic, he must also be the Father of Modern Physics.

            Yes, Father of us all, Father of “The Creation (after all, wasn’t he there when it happened?), Australo-Haydn, and Father of Modern Physics and of course, of Ulm, Germany.

  • Quintus Beckmesser says:

    Beethoven was never “unwashed”. Despite his general untidiness, he always washed thoroughly, even tipping tubfulls of water over himself, and he always insisted on clean linen even if his outer clothes were scruffy.

  • John Borstlap says:

    When they hear that piece later in life, the only thing they can think of, is plastic.

  • Quintus Beckmesser says:

    Beethoven may have had “an ego to die for” when it came to his music but this was counterbalanced by severe self-doubt which, along with his poor health, poisoned his life.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Is this for real? I mean…..

  • Jeffrey Rogers says:

    I do get that you may be a bit cynical Norman, but even though this may be a bit of a stretch comparing Beethoven to modern youth looking to learn how to recycle, it is something positive they are doing. Just the fact that no iPad or smart phone was even in the video should be applauded. So in this case, yes I believe you have missed the point and quite depressingly. I don’t think kids trying to do something constructive and positive for the world should ever be promoted in a negative way like you have today, even if it is your own personal cynicism.

  • Pacer1 says:

    Other than your spelling of Bedford, I think you have a problem of grammar here. “Irascible”, “misanthropic and “unwashed” are adjectives, and “ego” is an abstract noun. These children have been taught life skills through the active verbs “Reuse”, “Recycle” and “Repurpose”. I think the disconnect here is your opinion versus their action. No, they are not being taught to be ‘like’ Beethoven. They are being taught to ‘do’ as Beethoven did with this symphony as an example. Besides, how many children of grade-school age in the United States today even know who Beethoven is, let alone anything about his craft. Bravo to Ms. Wolkowicz.

  • steven holloway says:

    I have to think that your proposed interpretation of the programme is deliberately silly, a joke. If not, then you are most decidedly way off the mark. The fact that in New Bedford children are being thus exposed to and taught about classical music is wonderful indeed. Compare England, e.g. The revelation of classical music to children as soon as they start school would, I continue to think, and as enough of us have said in one venue or another, the surest way to raise a generation a good number of whom take a continuing interest — and mayhap help to fill concert halls. A post praising the NBSO would have been more appropriate — much more.

  • Brettermeier says:

    “…- …-”

    V what?

  • Ms.Melody says:

    They could have inspired them by telling them something about Beethoven, like how he overcame obstacles and created immortal music when he could no longer hear. They could use his example to instill in students the idea that nothing is impossible if one is brave and strong and determined. Not a bad role model. Instead, they created a contrived video that pushes ideas that have nothing to do with Beethoven. If they wanted to introduce the idea of RRR through musical examples, they should have used Rossini where it is much more obvious.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      I have seen worse things done to Beethoven than learning children to recycle plastics. But far-fetched it is. I think that “to instill in students the idea that nothing is impossible if one is brave and strong and determined” is not good. Tell the youth instead that they are to be brave and strong and determined only after they have acquired real knowledge. Unfortunately, it is much more popular to let students think that everything is possible, especially saving the world, if one is young and stupid.

    • Bruce says:

      If they wanted to introduce the idea of RRR through musical examples, they should have used Rossini where it is much more obvious.

      Or Mahler 🙂

  • fflambeau says:

    At least they have changed him into a chocolate salesmen, like the good folk of Salzburg (indeed, all of Austria) have done to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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