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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Two great Beethoven works

[I love to read Robert Anton Wilson quotes that discuss Beethoven, and the short piece below was new to me. The below also seems pertinent considering the use of Beethoven in Reality Is What You Can Get Away With. The only problem is while I have listened to all of the Beethoven piano sonatas, all of the symphonies, all of the piano concertos etc., I had not listened to the Missa Solemnis. I am fixing that now with a Szell/Cleveland Orchestra recording. The below is from Robert Anton Wilson's column in New Libertarian, Volume Four, Number Eight, December 1990-February 1981, and thank you again, Chad Nelson -- The Management]

Art and Morality

I was once denouncing Alfred Hitchcock to an Oxford intellectual. (There is a great deal I admire in Hitchcock's work, of course.)

"Oh," said the Oxfordian in that tone the English always use in talking to Americans who dare to have opinions about art, "you believe in art as Moral Uplift."

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do. In fact, to reveal the full abysmal depths of my heresy, I think the greatest art only comes from hearts and minds enflamed by a passion for the sublime in all dimensions, including the moral dimension.

Beethoven considered his greatest works to be the Missa Solemnis and the Ninth Symphony, and many intelligent musicologists agree with him. I don't think those towering Matterhorns of music could have been composed without a great passion for Utopia. After all, the Missa ends up with voices crying out for Peace, and the Ninth with a hymn to human brotherhood.


Eric Wagner said...

Great find! I love Horenstein’s recording of the Missa.

Oz Fritz said...

I purchased the Bernstein conducted iteration of Missa Solemnis a year or two ago. I listened to it a few times but confess to not having grasped its sublimity as of yet. This inspires me to try listening some more. I didn't realize the voices at the conclusion cry out for Peace. Maybe I'll sing along.

Anonymous said...

The Missa Solemnis is wonderful. If you're inclined to look in more obscure areas for Beethoven's work, give the Cantata on the Death of Joseph II a listen. He wrote it while he was still in Bonn, but he missed the deadline, so it wasn't performed. It's powerful. He recycled some of the music into Fidelio, and it includes the first version of what became (and evokes the reaction) "O Gott, welch ein Augenblick!"