There’s a great story about the multitalented American pianist, composer, and actor Oscar Levant. After being pulled over for speeding on a California highway, he reportedly confessed to the police officer that “you can’t possibly to listen to the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh and drive slow”. Whether that quote is accurate or just a bit of lore, it’s still an awesome line.
Tomorrow the 29th is my brother Chris’ 48th birthday. Throughout our lives, Chris and I have always had each other’s backs. And because I love my brother so much, and because he is a gifted, trained composer in his own right, I’d like to dedicate this Museworthy post to him. A tremendous admirer of Beethoven, Chris has often expressed his fondness for the Seventh Symphony. I am a Ninth person myself, but Chris opened my eyes – I should say ears! – to the Seventh Symphony years ago, and how right he was about its brilliance and gusto.
The melodies of Beethoven’s Symphonies are easily recognizable. For those of you who saw the movie “The King’s Speech”, you probably recall the dramatic, gradual buildup music that played as Colin Firth recited King George’s somber speech to the nation as Great Britain entered World War II. That music was the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh.
Enjoy this video of the last movement. It is performed in the tempo “allegro con brio” which means, appropriately, fast with vigor. It’s the buoyant, spirited section with its lively rhythms that caused Oscar Levant to hit his gas pedal hard and drive well beyond the speed limit. Under the conducting of the legendary Bernard Haitink, this is the Netherlands’ Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Happy birthday bro! Love you
“Art demands of us that we do not stand still”