Riding in Fast Cars with Beethoven

MFA Cars
Model cars at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Photo by ARS.

Have been on a jag listening to all the Beethoven Piano Trios. (A lacuna in my musical education: beyond the Ghost Trio, I didn’t really run across them before, and am now stumbling through them as an amateur chamber musician.) Not as epic as his quartets, but lots of interesting and experimental music, as well as some things that seem like Beethoven parodying Beethoven, including this irresistible (and earworm creating) finale to the Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 1, No. 3, – IV. Prestissimo: one of his great car chase scenes. Something about c-minor released the whirlwind in him, but here, unlike say the finale of the Moonlight, it’s more keystone cops than galloping furies.

A nice performance by what I’m guessing is a faculty group at SMU.

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Arts and Technology: Reasonable Words?

Various inbox bits of late have two interests of mine overlapping. In no particular order and with only scant kibbitzing from me (more to come, no doubt):

1. Ludwig von MOOC

Coursera has teamed up with pianist Jonathan Biss to give a MOOC course  on the big 32!

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Interesting to see if these kinds of “monuments of music” courses will work online. (Some music profs I know don’t like teaching them, as they create a kind of audience problem around prerequisites, the most obvious being can you read music or not and are you a pianist?) But the blurb invites everybody, and the musicians among the crowd can read Charles Rosen’s books and have their own section. Whether anybody could shed more light than Rosen is a question, but that’s a question that would dog an in-person class. I wonder if Biss will perform live as part of the MOOC? Could be quite thrilling if so. He’s a wonderful pianist.

2. Britten the iPad App

Benjamin Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” (fetchingly featured in a recent Wes Anderson movie) has its own iPad app. Free, and nice design. Haven’t played with it yet.

Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

3. BBC Tweets the Proms

Unless you’re in London, you can’t attend PROMS concerts in person (and you can’t watch them here in the U.S, at least not officially). But in addition to taking in the feast that is the world’s largest classical music festival via the BBC Radio 3 Web site, you can join the 25K twitter followers for the feed.  A nice path through the riches, wherein you can find things like the “Doctor Who Prom.” (5 days to listen left.) Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 12.51.14 PM