Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RAW and Beethoven

Robert Anton Wilson loved classical music. Here is a sample quote, from "Credo" RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE SITTING NOW: "I believe in Bach, the creator of heaven and earth, and in Mozart, his only begotten son, and in Beethoven the mediator and comforter; and inasmuch as their gods have manifested also in Vivaldi and Ravel and Stravinsky and many another I believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of error, and Mind everlasting."

He seems to have particularly liked Beethoven, one of my own favorites, and thanks to the Internet plenty of Beethoven is available at no cost. Musopen has free, public domain downloads available, including plenty of Beethoven. I have not examined every recording on the site, but Michael Hawley is obviously a good piano player. Obviously, some of the performances on the site are better than others.

Lots more free classical music, including Beethoven, is available here, as ogg files. (To play them, download the VLC music player, available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux).

There are also obviously many commercial recordings, and many are quite cheap. I particularly like pianist Alfred Brendel for the sonatas (the Vox recordings are a bargain), and George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra for the symphonies.


Royal Academy of Reality 1132 said...

This seems a terribly rich area of investigation. I would love to see a book on Wilson and Beethoven. I spent hours haunting the Ezra Pound section of the ASU library, perusing books on Pound and music, Pound and th visual arts, Pound and Dante, Pound and Provance, etc. I would love to see a similar variety of books on Wilson.

I love Szell's work as well. My college roommate had Szell's Brahms symphonies, which I listened to a lot. I would like to get the Furtwangler Brahms set one of these days. I also enjoy Brendel's playing (and his books). I had Brendel and Fischer-Dieskau doing Schumann Lieder playing this morning before I went to work.

Dan Clore said...

When I was eighteen, going to University of Oregon, at the beginning of
summer term I decided (largely inspired by reading RAW) to listen to the
first movement of Beethoven's fifth every day. I didn't have a set time,
but usually started it up around 10 p.m. As the weather was warm, people
(including me) in the dorm tended to keep their doors and windows open,
so it was very audible to a lot of people. I was the subject of a lot of
humor then, ranging fromt the breadth of my tastes (I was also listening
to a lot of weird things like the Butthole Surfers), to claiming that
they had set their clocks and watches by the time I played the fifth.
One guy, though, mentioned that he liked to go out to the lounge in the
center of the dorm's floor that I lived on each night and listen to it.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I like the Fifth, but I've always been partial to the Fourth, too. The opening just amazes me every time.

Royal Academy of Reality 1132 said...

Great story, Dan. I particularly love the use of Beethoven in the _Schroedinger's Cat_ books.

Tony said...

Szell's orchestral Beethoven is among the best (Ormandy also fine). Listen too to what Bernstein did in his last decade- he reaches into the inner parts and brings out the beauties like noone before.

I prefer Serkin the Elder for the Piano Concertos (esp.4&5). The last few Sonatas are the most important, but many are rich & deep architecture.

If you're going to explore the deepest Beethoven, that's the String Quartets. Sounds intimate, but they are full of stars. Most important: the Rasumovskys (#7-9) and the lates (#13-16).

Beethoven's mixture of head and heart is hard to beat. Can't imagine a life without him (or Mozart's overtures and symphonies).

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