A Beethoven a day: He lost a penny

A Beethoven a day: He lost a penny


norman lebrecht

January 14, 2020

Welcome to the eleventh work in the Slipped Disc/Idagio Beethoven Edition

11 Rage over a Lost Penny Opus 129

Consumers beware: the Rage might not be by Beethoven. Some ascribe it to his factotum, Schindler. Others believe it was written as early as 1795 and left unfinished. It was published posthumously by Diabelli in 1828 and became an instant hit. It lasts around five minutes and is a comic simulation of rage rather than rage itself.
The shortlived American pianist Julius Katchen nails its pantomime element perfectly.

Evgeny Kissin goes for sheer speed.

Wilhelm Kempff makes a courtly dance of it .

Sir Clifford Curzon is fast and stiff-lipped

Alice Sara Ott is leisurely and elegant

Do not miss the legendary Eugen D’Albert, recorded in 1918 and playing twice as fast as anyone else in order to cram it onto one acoustic disc. Whee-eee.



  • Jonathan says:

    It’s a total departure for me, and I don’t think there’s much Weissenberg has done that works for me. But for whatever reason I find this reading totally to be just plain fun. One reason it may be relatively unknown is that I’m fairly certain it was only ever issued as a filler in conjunction with his otherwise forgettable Concerto cycle with HvK from the late 1970s. YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tafWa0nkFk

    • Hilary says:

      To my mind, one of the great pianists of the 20th Century, albeit not in evidence from his collaborations with his friend Karajan.
      Please sample his Rachmaninov Preludes, Bach-Liszt P+F in Aminor and the Cesar Franck arr. Bauer.

  • Piano Lover says:

    I bam glad Julius Katchen’s name is mentionned here.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Agreed. He was one of the greatest pianist of the age. His recording of Brahms’ 2nd piano concerto is simply the best, sets enduring standards, especially in the shading of fore- and background of the piano textures and the sheer Schwung and intense expression.

  • fflambeau says:

    Katchen made his debut at the ripe old age of 10. He was very good. Especially famous for his Brahms programs. He died in his early 40s of cancer, unfortunately.

    Another favorite of mine, Benno Moiseiwitsch won a major prize at the age of….9. None other than Sergei Rachmaninoff considered him his favorite pianist. BM has quite a few YouTube recordings. He’s great with Rachmaninoff, and also Chopin and his own favorite, Robert Schumann.

  • Karin Becker says:

    Eine große Überraschung war für mich die Interpretation der „Wut über den verlorenen Groschen“ durch Grigoriy Sokolov, zu hören auf Youtube. Man hört ein virtuos gespieltes Drama, das begeistert.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Weissenberg’s preludes and Rachmaninoff songs with Nicolai Gedda that I mentioned to Greg Bottini are first-rate, Hillary; also his Bch transcriptions, Chaconne, and “Rejoice Beloved Christians” breathless running chorale in three speeds each faster than the other. He also owns Scriabin’s left-hand Nocturne.

    He and Karajan share a connection to Pancho Vladiguerov, “the greatest Bulgarian coomposer”. Of course. Sigi studied with himand recorded one of his pieces. Karajan played one of his piano concertos for conservatory graduation.

  • John Borstlap says:

    How famous is Beethoven still in these times, in spite of the Beethoven Year blasted all around the world?

    A research project performed by the Musicology Intervention Team at the Texas Institue of Technology two months ago, gathered 2400 students from all US universities into the Landmark Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency:


    …. where they were exposed to loud recordings of Beethoven’s 5th, 6th and 9th symphony, after which the test subjects were asked to write their reactions on a card, answering the question: do you know this music? And if so, have you ANY idea who could POSSIBLY be the author? At the end of the session, the cards were collected at the exit and the cultural and ethnic background of the students checked for social/cultural relevance. The subjects who had sunk into depression or suffered from nervous exhaustion symptoms were carried away on stretchers to specially provided restrooms where they received medical and psychological treatment.

    The outcomes did not come as a surprise to the team: of the test subjects….

    – 2132 had never heard of the music and had no idea about the author

    – 98 recognized bits used under a film feature

    – 170 knew the works perfectly well and correctly stated the composer, complete with year of birth and death

    As far as background was concerned: the first group consisted of white Americans; the second of Hispanics and Blacks in a ratio of 57% / 43%; the 3rd group were all Americans with a first generation Chinese background.

    Only 7,1% of the test subjects (3rd group) could recognize the played works and its author.

    As Dr Hofstadter of the TIT Research Team said: ‘It seems that knowledge of the most important musical phemonemon of the West is no longer acknowledged as something meaningful in its own environment, and the cultural background of the 1,7% who tested positive has important consequences for the conclusions of the project report which will be presented to the American Beethoven Society. We hope that the Beethoven Commemoration will inspire some change in the matter.’ There was, however, critique from some British academics from Cambridge and Oxford who complained that using only American students was falsifying the picture since they could not possibly held accountable for Western education in general. They proudly claimed that at their own universities, almost 8% of students of all ages, including from overseas, had at least once in their life time the name of Beethoven heard mentioned in some context which was considered a considerable sign of cultural literacy.

    Dr Hofstadter was not available for comment, complaining about severe head ache after reading the project results.