I have finished the Hilaritas Press podcast on Beethoven starring Mike Gathers and Eric Wagner, it was very good, I plan to listen to it one more time to make sure I have absorbed everything. (It mentions this blog more often that the other HP podcasts have, but that's not why I liked it.) A few comments:
1. The discussion of Beethoven by Eric is really good, he does a good job for example of discussing the works of Beethoven written in C minor and what's happening with them.
2. Eric is invited to suggest a few pieces for Beethoven newbies, and he obliges, but I want to chime in. It seems to me some of the best choices are the blindingly obvious ones: The Fifth Symphony (I like the Szell/Cleveland Orchestra recording), the "Moonlight," "Pathetique" and "Waldstein" piano sonatas, the Fourth and Fifth piano concertos, the violin concerto. Beyond that, I agree with Eric in recommending the Seventh symphony. You can't go wrong trying some of the piano sonatas and other symphonies, some of my favorite pianists are Sviatoslav Richter and Alfred Brendel. I am particularly fond also of the third and 32nd piano sonatas and the third cello sonata. If you want more recommendations, see Tyler Cowen.
3. At the end of the podcast, Eric gives an update on his Straight Outta Dublin book project about James Joyce and Robert Anton Wilson, I am relieved it is nearing completion and rather anxious to read it.
4. As Eric and Mike discuss, RAW liked what he liked on music and did not try particularly hard to "keep up," as he did with literary fiction, science fiction, etc. I unsurprised he did not pay a lot of attention to current pop music. I am more surprised he seldom mentions contemporary classical, such as Steve Reich, Lou Harrison, etc.
5. Eric and Mike are both Deadheads, I liked some of the Grateful Dead's records and I dutifully listened to some of Complete Road Trips album after listening to the podcasts, but I confess if I am going to listen to live recordings, I'd rather listen to Miles Davis and his various bands, Frank Zappa and his bands, Sviatoslav Richter in performance and quite a few others ... what am I missing?
6. Let me once again recommend RAW's piece "Beethoven As Information," in The Illuminati Papers.
Starting with the first Beethoven string quartets and listening in the order he wrote them makes a nice introduction to his music.
Live improv Grateful Dead may be an acquired taste. The ear can get educated with repeated exposure. I know my friend Fred Frith, free jazz musician, composer and music educator appreciates and takes them seriously. Not everyone likes them. I also love the live music of Sun Ra. Both could be called different kinds of space jazz maybe. Experiments with improvised music range in how good they turn out.
I lived in San Jose from 1967 - 1978. Living in the Bay Area tuned me in to the Dead's music. When I moved back to California in 1997, I got hooked on Barry Smolin's Grateful Dead radio show, and I became obsessed with their music from 1999 - 2005. I notice that a number of my friends from San Jose with whom I went to high school also became Deadheads although I don't remember them liking the Dead in high school. Of course, some of my San Jose friends don't like the Dead.
"We're a lot like licorice. Not everyone likes licorice, but people who like licorice, really like licorice." - J. Garcia
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