Monday, June 13, 2005

Bittersweet Symphonies

I can't claim to be an expert on classical music. I'll listen to something, and if I like it, great. If I don't, so be it. I'll try my best to appreciate something if a so-called expert says it is some cultural milestone, but that's about it if the song just doesn't do it for me -- whatever "it" is.

One set of music that I don't have to try very hard to like are Beethoven's Symphonies. He wrote nine of them, and there's not a stinker in the bunch. Everyone knows the fifth one -- it's got the most famous opening in music history -- but many might be fuzzy on the rest. The symphony critics rave about is the ninth, and I'm still working my head around it. I've got a fantastic set of the symphonies with Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, and both the fifth and ninth symphonies are worthy of listening to again and again. Very lively and aggressive. Not laid back, bore-you-to-death classical music at all.

But suppose you're sitting there reading this thinking that you'd like to try listening to these symphonies, but for whatever reason don't have access to them. Well, that excuse is over thanks to BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Philharmonic. Radio 3 is going nuts with Beethoven lately, and the Philharmonic has elected to play all of the symphonies for broadcast live over the radio station, and then have them posted to the Radio 3 website the next day.

So far they've performed the first five symphonies and have them available for download at The Beethoven Experience, along with everything you might ever ask about Beethoven and his music. The music is great and the price is even better.


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