Saturday, March 15, 2008
My Favorite Piece of Music
Beethoven's Sonata 23 (Appassionata), Movement 3
Claudio Arrau performs his interpretation in this video. I like it. I have Willhelm Kempff's complete collection of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas on CD. Kempff performs this movement a little bit slower but with perhaps a little more feeling. I think they're both equally good.
I took piano lessons when I was really young. I stopped at the beginning of 4th grade once I started getting serious about basketball. I had some talent for the piano, but I was lazy. I didn't like to practice, but I had a good ear for the music. I never bothered learning how to read sheet music that well, so I pretty much learned to play songs through listening to them and watching my teacher. I hated the lessons though. It took away from my time playing basketball, so I begged and pleaded with my mom to let me quit.
Nearly 20 years later, I wish I had kept going with it. I love classical piano music. I could listen to the Appassionata, Tempest, Moonlight Sonata, Pathetique, and countless other Beethoven piano sonatas a billion times and never get sick of them. They're quite simply works of pure genius and beauty. I don't think I'm overstating when I say that music like this is one of the greatest achievements of our species.
It kind of makes you think what would happen if someone with the genius of a Beethoven, Mozart, or Bach were around in our current generation. Would we even know about him? Would he even get a chance to show his talents?
Classical-style music is all but dead in our society. The only times we even hear orchestras and symphonies are when they're playing music from classical composers, or they're making music for plays or movies. Hollywood, believe it or not, is where the greatest composers of our time our wasting away. It's a shame that someone as talented as John Williams is best known for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars theme songs. He's essentially a high class jingle writer. 300 years ago, John Williams would have been composing original music for the masses. His music would be appreciated on its own merit instead of for the movie for which it was composed.
If Beethoven were around today, he'd be overlooked in favor of Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake, Fergie, and the plethora of other talentless stars. Great music should be timeless. It's not something you look back on 20 years later and laugh at. A thousand years from now (assuming we don't wipe ourselves off the face of the planet) we'll still revere Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart's music, but we'll have long forgotten the stars of today.
It's just sad to me to think that right now, there could be some 6 year old kid with a pitch-perfect ear for music already performing and writing classical music. He might get a headline or two. Maybe he'll make a showing on the Tonight Show where everyone will call him a child prodigy. Perhaps he'll go on to be a great soloist in some world renown orchestra. I can tell you one thing though... we'll never hear one of his own original compositions... unless of course it winds up in a movie or Broadway musical. It's sad because that 6 year old kid could be the next Mozart, but we'll never know, and even worse, our society will never care.
We're too busy worshiping the next hot, but completely talentless train wreck we turn into a celebrity.