We took in a classic movie this week, starring Karlheinz Böhm, son of the legendary Austrian conductor. You'll have to wait a day or so to find out which one.
(If you want to hear how this symphony supposedly ought to sound, try Harnoncourt.)
Böhm senior also scored many a long car journey with my father — specifically his interpretations of the Brahms symphonies.
Aside from its greatness — which hardly needs to be explained, by me or anyone else — the reason Beethoven’s music has had such special significance for me these past nine months is that it is the product of a person who was profoundly alone, and who found remarkable power and possibility in aloneness.
Nevertheless, a week or so later James Wood wrote in the LRB of how, as a child, he conspicuously failed to pick up his father's obsession with the music...
I disliked Beethoven’s bombast: the melodramatic dynamic contrasts that seemed like huge arguments followed by wheedling tears; the endless endings of the symphonies, as the brassy orchestra wumps from tonic to dominant to tonic, over and over again. The beer-cellar heroism in major keys – the aspect of Beethoven that sometimes offended even Adorno as ‘ham-acting’, ‘a mere “boom boom”’. Even the beauties of the famous slow movements – the or , say – seemed stiflingly ‘noble’ on a dull Northern English Sunday afternoon. The string quartets with their polite rustle.
I still stand amazed, especially with the stuff scribbled down by the 'deaf old bear', and yet as I grow older, the music and my prevailing moods seem further apart than they did thirty odd years ago in a corner room at Girton.Perhaps old Ludwig was just a little too humourless for 2020, though he was nevertheless fond of a drink. Indeed, it has been suggested that he died as a result of the lead in his vino tinto.