Friday, April 7, 2017

How Tall Was Beethoven?

I just learned this and immediately had to pass it on: Beethoven was only 5'3! I learned this here, where I also learned that Prince was only 5'2! Paul Simon is 5'3 and Pablo Picasso was 5'4. Bob Dylan, 5'6.

Let's have a little Beethoven. Oops, sorry! This is Igor Levit playing part of the  Piano Sonata op. 110:


Anonymous said...

That long quote from Es Ist Vollbracht (2:07-2:20), I wonder what is known about it. Was Beethoven a fan of the St John passion? Did he even know it? Is it a coincidence? Can a 13-second verbatim quote be a coincidence? Fascinating questions? I know that Beethoven gave money to Bach's daughter and that the Mendelssohn "revival" of the St Matthew did not mean professional musicians were unfamiliar with Bach's repertoire. But I doubt Beethoven had a chance to listen to the passions. Perhaps he had the score? Anyone knows?

Beautiful sonata!

Bryan Townsend said...

That's a very interesting observation! The first ten or so notes are, rhythmic variations aside, a near-exact quote from the Bach aria, but then the melody goes in a completely different direction. I wonder if this is a conscious quote? Beethoven knew a lot of Bach. He used to play various preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered in private concerts in Vienna in his early days there. This was from a manuscript score as there were no published ones available then. But did he know the Passions? It is certainly possible as there may have been manuscript copies of them passed around among musicians. Before the days of the photocopy machine and scanners, this was very, very common.

Anyone else have anything to add?

Marc Puckett said...

"In [Beethoven's patron Archduke] Rudolph's library were: The Art of the Fugue, The Well-Tempered Clavier, all four parts of the Clavieruübung, the Two- and Three-Part Inventions, the French and English Suites, Motets, Masses, the Four-Part Choral Songs, and much more." I imagine that the 'and much more' has been investigated by the enterprising graduate students in musicology?

"Incredibly, there were only three 78 RPM recordings of the most famous number in the St. John Passion, the alto aria "Es ist vollbracht". Leopold Stokowski recorded his own orchestral arrangement with the Philadelphia Orchestra [M-5]. Though sung in French, the performance by Lina Falk, with the gamba obligato played by and organ accompaniment by Noëlie Pierront, remains, after over half a century, one of the more satisfying accounts of this aria [M-6]. The same may be said of Marian Anderson's heartrending reading in English, which was recorded in 1941, and was subsequently transferred to LP in the early 1950s [M-9]." That Marian Anderson version-- with Robert Shaw and the RCA Symphony Orchestra-- is if not exactly heartrending to my mind certainly of great interest.

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, Marc. Good information!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Marc.