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Kendall controversy Part 2

img  Tobias

Yesterday, we took a stance against Nicolas Kendall's resolution of playing music "everyone can understand" and claimed it was actually the music that most people didn't really understand that had become common favourites. Now, we'd like to give you just a little bit more insight into that thesis by taking the example of Beethoven's symphony number 9, already dubbed by some the "hymn of humanity". Even disregarding such "slightly" exagerated talk, this work can claim an unbroken popularity for almost two centuries and abuse by the most diverse political wings.

Still, while it received a tempestuous applause after its innitial performance by the public, some of Beethoven's most ardent followers were shocked and gravely disappointed - even years afters his death. Carl Maria von Weber thought the work to be chaotic and lacking of cohesion, Louis Spohr went so far as to claim "every single movement of his previous Symphonies was better than the first three of his ninth" and characterised the final movement as "trivial" and "lacking of taste". Both von Weber and Spohr found it regrettable that Beethoven's genius had been led astray and that his music had become ever harder to understand, to the point where it was impossible to discern its meaning.

While Bonnie Koo, in an article for classical.net, claims that "Anyone can appreciate Beethoven's Ninth Symphony for its simple, yet complex aesthetic beauty", but that it takes knowledge of its background to understand it fuller (a slightly trivial remark actually), Jan Swafford has a simpler theory: "Nobody has figured out what Beethoven meant by all this".

In the end, our point is an easy one: Whether or not a piece can be understood by anyone, has nothing to do with whether or not it strikes a chord with the audience. Some concert promoters and artists still seem to think the opposite and have made it a habbit of underchallenging the public and feeding them a diet of "accessible" pieces. In our eyes, at least a part of the problems facing Classical Music has to do with this attitude.

Homepage: Nicolas Kendall
Source: Beethoven's Ninth at classical.net
Source: Beethoven's Ninth at Slate


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