Beethoven and Brotherly Love

Have I ever mentioned how much I adore my brother and love hanging out with him? Yes, I believe I have 🙂 Last week Chris and I attended the NY Philharmonic concert at Avery Fisher Hall. The evening’s program was Beethoven’s sublime and transcendent Ninth Symphony. The moment conductor Alan Gilbert strode onto the stage and took his place at the podium you could feel the anticipation filling the air of the sold out hall. New York City native and child of the Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert conducted the hour long Ninth Symphony from memory, with no score in front of him. That’s not uncommon among conductors these days but still it was fabulous to watch.

Chris and I before the concert, outside an illuminated Lincoln Center:

Picture 8

My brother and I share the widely held view that Beethoven’s Ninth (and last) symphony is as close to the musical pinnacle of Western Civilization as it gets. In other words, it is sacred. And scared things often run the risk of being desecrated by the more prosaic arena of popular culture. Case in point: the background of my Twitter page is the Mona Lisa blowing bubblegum. Sorry Leonardo! I’m guilty as charged 😆

When Beethoven is involved, however, I become a bit protective. For me he’s the untouchable exception, as I am in reverent awe of the man and his music. My protective instincts kick into even higher gear when a Beethoven work is co-opted for undignified purposes. The Ninth Symphony, intended by Beethoven as a paean to humanity and universal love, provides the musical backdrop for the 1988 smash hit action movie “Die Hard”. It also figures prominently in the violent futuristic dystopia of Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”, in which the music is contrasted with disturbing images of Nazis. Loudmouthed TV personality Keith Olbermann used the first few bars of the symphony’s 2nd movement as the opening theme for his now defunct MSNBC program. And since we apparently can’t leave Beethoven’s unparalleled genius alone there’s now ” an app for that”. Yes, a Ninth Symphony iPhone app! Okay, so the app doesn’t really bother me and actually seems pretty cool, but Bruce Willis fighting terrorists to “Ode to Joy” is tacky. That’s some degrading bullshit.

I wonder what Beethoven, or any of the giants of artistic creation, would think of their works being treated in such ways. Mona Lisa parodies depicting her as a biker chick, Beethoven symphonies in action movie soundtracks, Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring taking a “selfie”. Heck maybe the artists wouldn’t be offended much at all. Or maybe they would find such things travesties. We’ll never know.

To conclude this Music Monday, Here are The Beatles performing – what else? – Roll Over Beethoven. Kisses for John xxx 🙂

15 thoughts on “Beethoven and Brotherly Love

  1. Chris Hajian says:

    Claudia,

    What a beautiful post as are all of your blog entries. It was a special night and seeing it with you was great.
    Thanks for the perfect B’day gift!
    I’m very lucky!
    Chris

    • artmodel says:

      Chris,

      I’M lucky because I have the best brother in the whole world! It was a great evening, as always. We’ll do it again soon 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  2. Lynn Kauppi says:

    Claudia

    Kubrick is noted for the ironic contrast between his scores and his films’ visuals. So I have no problem with his use of Beethoven’s Ninth in Clockwork Orange. But few people have his genius and usually turn monuments of civilization into tawdry cliches.

    Hope life is good for you.

    Lynn

    • artmodel says:

      Lynn,

      Yes, lumping Kubrick’s use of the 9th in with Die Hard’s is not really an equivalent comparison in this instance. But the scenes of the Alex character and the music/torture/depravity are difficult for me! Of course, that was Kubrick’s intention. On a side note, I just read the other day that sales of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony shot up after the release of Clockwork.

      Thanks for your great comments!

      Claudia

      • Dave says:

        I’m one of those people who was introduced to the Ninth by A Clockwork Orange (I saw the film in college years after it was released). I’ve been hooked on Beethoven ever since. I never get tired of seeing the Ninth performed.

        • artmodel says:

          Dave,

          Thanks for your comment! The Ninth celebrates the glory and beauty of life. It’s hard for me to understand people who aren’t moved it. And good for you for being hooked on Beethoven, a man who didn’t allow his deafness and isolation to pull him down into bitterness and cynicism.

          Claudia

  3. Bill says:

    There is a flip side to this, though — many of us received our introduction to classical music by viewing cartoons:
    http://music-teacher-resources.com/classical-music-in-cartoons.html

    I may have mentioned that I lost my brother to cancer (he was 44, I was 42.) You’re absolutely right to treasure that relationship and never take it for granted.

    P.S. And yes, I think Beethoven’s 9th is cool, too 🙂

    • artmodel says:

      Bill,

      Those cartoons are so cute! Anything that exposes kids to classical music is okay with me. Thanks for sharing them 🙂

      Yes you did mention the loss of your brother. At such a young age, that is very tough. My brother and I absolutely cherish our close relationship, like you said.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  4. Lynn Kauppi says:

    Claudia

    I forgot to mention how fortunate you are to have a sib. I’m an only child and I’ve made peace with that and often love it. But I so miss not having either a brother or a sister.

    Lynn

    • artmodel says:

      Lynn,

      My niece is also an only child. I know my brother and sister-in-law have wished they could have given her a sibling. But she is a wonderful, secure, loved child. You’ve made peace, as you should. My brother and I have an exceptionally strong relationship, but I’ve known people who have had acrimonious sibling relationships too, and that is problematic. I am very lucky to have such a great guy for a brother 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  5. Derek says:

    Its great that you have a big brother with you and enjoying hte day. My brother sadly died recently he was 82. I still think of him going to shows with him like the Beatles in 1965,n the Animals in 1966, Otis redding in 1966 and Led Zeppelin in 1969 and 1975. And I went to see Oliver with him back my london days.

    I also like classical music I love the Wagner, Berlioz, and Schubert. Beethoven was sadly hearing impaired but he has composed a body of work that are classic.

    Cheers luv

    • artmodel says:

      Derek,

      You are so lucky to have seen such great rock and roll music live! What amazing memories. And I also love Schubert. One of my favorites.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  6. fredh1 says:

    Beethoven’s music will survive all indignities. It is that strong.

  7. Derek says:

    Here is a link that may interest you this is a documentary on Franz Schubert he was very young when he died 31. My goodness that’s how old my son is.
    Check it out and parts 2-4 are in youtube.
    I hope you don’t mind.

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