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As I continue my journey into music, I learn from Robert Greenberg (How to Listen to Great Music) that “classical music” is the wrong term. Instead I should be calling the music of Bach, Mozart, and Brahms “concert music.” I’ll probably slip up more than once.

Last night Julie and I attended a performance by ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Beethoven’s Ninth. Everything I said in a previous entry about Strauss applies double here. This symphony left me breathless. The combination of instruments and human voice, rising and falling, telling such a story of hope, and discovery, and joy gave me much the same feeling as Stratford’s performance of The Tempest last summer. Beethoven’s Ninth has to be one of the greatest achievement of the human mind, and it makes me happy to share a planet with such a creation.

There’s so much more to learn, so much more to understand about what Beethoven was trying to do with his symphony. Why, in the second movement, is there this playful tune that keeps getting pulled back into sadness so that you just want to shout out, “No! Let it out! Let it play!”? Why, in the amazing and enormous fourth movement are there so many resets and returns? Does each one mean something different? No matter, because even in my currently ignorant state, the finale of the fourth movement is so dramatic, so energetic, and so joyous that I found myself leaping to my feet, clapping my hands off in appreciation.

Just one side comment – listening to classi- er, um, concert music on cd or other recorded medium is fine, but it is nothing like hearing it live. I don’t know that I quite understand the difference yet, but it’s like the difference between reading about cheesecake and actually eating it. Two totally different things.

So much more to learn. Between getting ready to teach science in the fall (so exciting!), finishing up this school year strong, and keeping up with Shakespeare, Monet, riding my bike, and baseball, it’s hard to find the time to read more of Greenberg’s book and really dig into this rich topic. But I’m already hooked, and I can’t wait to learn more.

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My first book, called The Turtle and the Universe, was published by Prometheus Books in July 2008. You can read about it by clicking on the link above.
My second book, Atoms and Eve, is available as an e-book at Barnes and Noble. Click the link above. You can download the free nook e-reader by clicking the link below.
May 2019
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A blog by Stephen Whitt

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