massenet, beethoven, & the dirty dozen

I learned to pronounce Goethe correctly as GUH-tuh (approximately).

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Biography, Works, Faust, & Facts | Britannica
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832)

But I always pronounced the main character in his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther as WERE-thur not VUH- tuh.

THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER Classic Novels: New Illustrated eBook by  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Rakuten Kobo

I probably learned to pronounce Goethe correctly after already reading The Sorrows of Young Werther and didn’t mentally correct the pronunciation in my head.

Aria Code Unpacks 'Nessun Dorma' | New England Public Media

This morning i was listening to an old “Aria Code” podcast, The aria for the day was the Letter Aria from Massenet’s opera, Werther. As they were discussing it I immediately realized that I had always pronounced Werther incorrectly. Live and learn.

Trying to situate Beethoven’s first symphony into context I realize how much less I know about him than say Haydn or Bach. I turned to the Beethoven section of Charles Rosen’s The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven.

The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven: Rosen, Charles:  9780393317121: Books

I have always found Rosen’s observations enlightening and helpful. The Beethoven analysis I was previously reading by Samuel Hollister mentioned Rosen and also the fact that his terminology had been adapted by The Groves Dictionary. I don’t think of the many Rosen books I own as textbooks, I’m not sure exactly what they are except excellent and informative.

He is helping me sort through my misconceptions about Beethoven especially historically. For example, I was taught that Beethoven was the ‘Father of Romanticism. You may know the famous picture of Liszt and others sitting at the foot of a huge bust of Beethoven.

Beethoven's Background Cameos in Art and Paintings : Interlude

The Romantics admired him, no doubt. But when it came to the nitty gritty they actually derived many of their compositional techniques including their famous chromaticism from others.

Beethoven himself took a turn toward the past toward the end of his career nodding to Haydn and Mozart more than to the future. Granted he did so in incredibly beautiful and wonderful new ways. But this gauntlet of technique is not picked up by the next generation. It has to wait for Brahms, Mendelssohn, and others who in Rosen’s opinion do not extend the compositional ideas of sonata allegro form terribly successfully. Specifically no one ends up doing it quite as artfully as Beethoven.

Hmm. I did not know that. But when I think of it, it makes total sense.

Finally, I want to mention the group, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Bio — Dirty Dozen Brass Band

How does one find new music? I’ve never had a very good answer to that question my whole life. In this case, I was helped by the damn YouTube algorithm which popped into a Dirty Dozen Band NPR Tiny Music Desk video after I listened to one by the Westerlies (whom I do admire).

The Westerlies: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert - YouTube
The Westerlies

Wow. This group can play. I love the tuba and the rhythms and the whole deal. Recommended.

This morning I listened to most of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band Album 2006 What’s Going On. Here’s a YouTube Version of the first track.

You don’t really get the joyful sense of this band from this track, but it’s still good I do love me some Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

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