Now here's a video that's probably worth your time.  It's an adaptation of the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's 9th to a tourism video for Croatia.  The result is, for the most part, remarkable.

Of course, the architecture and a few cultural icons aside, what really carries it is Beethoven.  And that reminds me, again, of a problem we have often considered.  The beauty of the music that came out of Europe from the 1700s to the late 1800s was unrivaled in human history; Croatia has a claim to it because Croatia is European, and indeed a central part of the same romantic movement in Europe that inspired Beethoven.

If the music of that era is unequaled, though, it is we ourselves who fail to equal it.  The lady who performs here is a fine cellist; she replicates her part well.  Who writes for her now, as once he did?


raven said...

that was lovely-thanks!
Many years ago my brother and I took a long ride up the Alcan highway, when it was gravel. We were equipped with a Porsche 914 and bunch of classical cassette tapes. A somewhat eclectic choice of vehicle and music, although the mid engine Porsche did drift beautifully with no tendency to under or over-steer,
Beethoven certainly fit the landscape well, in particular I remember listening to the "Choral Fantasia".

douglas said...

Curiously, I think some of the better classical music of recent times is movie scores. The classical arts need patrons, and the 'patrons' of society today are more interested in what's been deemed 'cool' or 'valuable' by the art world itself. I hadn't thought of it before, but it seems an unhealthy partnership for society at large, as beauty is devalued for sensationalism.

An alternative is that since we entered the age of easily reproduced music (and other art forms), we have less need of active musicians and composers. Timeless beauty is after all, timeless.

bthun said...

While at the barn this am I peeked in on The Hall via the new fangled whiz-bang phone/Opera and saw this post... Couldn't wait to get back to the real PC to play OtJ on a good audio system.

OtJ is a heck of a way to kick off the morning!

Douglas, I agree with your patrons and cool points too.

Timeless indeed.

In today's world, full of noise, distractions, and busyness for its own sake, finding quiet moments for reflection and inspiration can take some effort.

Thanks Grim!

MikeD said...

I don't really know that you can compare Beethoven to "modern music" as they're two different animals. Heck, the support systems for each are completely different. (AFAIK) Beethoven had private patrons who payed for him to do nothing but write music. I cannot think of a single singer/songwriter/composer of today with a private patron. Instead, we've got a system of recording studios who will pay proven artists for their work and in many cases will have ironclad contracts for their work. But none, to the best of my knowledge, keep singers/songwriters/composers on retainer in the sense of Prince Razumovsky or Count Waldstein.

But the other thing to bear in mind is that there was nothing "magical" about the time Beethoven lived with regard to music. They made crap music back then too. We just don't know it, because no one bothered to keep it around.

DL Sly said...

A long time ago, in a life far different from this one, I introduced MH to the quiet pleasure of Gregorian chants. (Considering the man had every single album by Judas Priest, AC/DC, Metallica, Megadeath, Faster Pussycat, etc when I met him, not a bad achievement, if I do say so myself.) It was as much a part of our Sunday routine as the caffeine injection and reading the newspaper. I still have those cassettes, but haven't found them in cd format so sadly our Sunday routine now focuses on getting laundry done and taking care of the various two- and four-legged critters in the house.

DL Sly said...

"They made crap music back then too. We just don't know it, because no one bothered to keep it around."

True, Mike, although I have a feeling that has as much to do with the more *harsh* forms of "critical review" many of the paid composers faced in that day. I'd venture to say that some clients felt no compunction at all in killing the *messenger* as well as the music.

MikeD said...

Oh I don't know that they'd go so far as to KILL a bad composer (though I won't say it never happened... I just don't know), but I think it more likely that bad composers just starved, or found other work. Because, there was no NEA back then to fund their bad art.

Anonymous said...

For choral music I'd submit Morton Lauridsen. The "O Nata Lux" movement from his larger work, "O Nata Lux" is breathtaking, as is his setting of Rilke's "Roman de la Rose." And Alan Hohvannes wrote some magnificent pieces, besides his best known symphony, "Mysterious Mountain."

As others have said, the support system is different these days, and technology is playing a role as well. Electronic music has shifted the classical world in some ways.


Anonymous said...

OK, the movement I was trying to think of from "Les Chansons des Roses" is "Dirait-on." Latin I can remember, French always escapes me :)


Eric Blair said...

"The beauty of the music that came out of Europe from the 1700s to the late 1800s was unrivaled in human history"

Well, no, not exactly. It's because you've been both taught that, and because the music itself is constantly played to reinforce the meme. Because we have the technology to do so. I would like to find some information on how much Beethoven was actually being played by orchestras before the invention of recording technology. We, and I mean everybody, do not listen to music in the same way as someone living at the same time as Beethoven.

As for the question of who is writing music, it is probably the case that any modern-day Beethoven is simply doing something else. Because people have a lot more possibilities open to them now then ever before.

Bob said...

Thank you for this post. I linked here:

Your blog is a regular read for me. Thank you for that, too.

Grim said...

You're welcome!