Tag Archives: Harvey Sachs

The Symphony that changed the world…

So one day I’m talking to my wife about music and I tell her I have this great idea for a book.  She listened with half an ear.  My idea was to write a book about the Beethoven 9th and it’s impact on music and world history.  “Oh great honey.  You should do that…”   Well, I was already too late.  The following Sunday I pick up the Arts section of the Dallas Morning News and what do I see?  A review of Harvey Sachs book “The 9th Beethoven and the World in 1824.”  I have to admit I was furious!  It’s funny how suddenly I felt like I had been wronged.  Like I would have actually written the book myself? 
In any case I’m glad the book has been written and I’m glad it was written by Harvey Sachs.  Harvey wrote a great book I read some time ago about Artur Rubinstein. “Rubinstein: A Life”
The book is divided into four parts.  The first section is the history of the writing and the debut of the Ninth Symphony.  There is fascinating detail here.  Where Beethoven lived at the time, the arrangements for the performance, the debut itself, some debunking of myth surrounding the first performance, and it’s aftermath.
Part Two is called “1824 or how Artist internalize Revolution.”  Sachs discusses how the defeat and disappoint of Napoleon led to the birth of the “Romantic” period in music, art, and literature.  Havey credits Marie-Henri Beyle, a.k.a Stedhal with being the first person to perceive the relationship between “death of the Revoluion and the birth of Romanticism.”  He decusses the impact of Romanticism on the philosphy of G.W.F. Hegel who said “Philosphoy my expect attention and love again; when this science, stricken dumb, can lift up its voice again and hope that a world which had become deaf to it may lend an ear to it once more.”  Sach states that if you change “philosophy” and “science” to “music’ and “art”, Beethoven himself could have said this.
As monarchy’s re-solidified there hold on power after the defeat of Napolean, poets, artists, and musicians looked to bold statements like the ninth to inspire them to rage against empirial rule.  “All Men Are Brothers” the finale of the 9th proclaims.  Lord Byron even stated that he was “fighting freedoms battle.”  Sachs concludes that “the hidden thread” that connects the other important works of 1824 is the quest for freedom proclaimed in the choral finale of Beethoven’s Ninth.  This is one of the most interesting parts of the book as Mr. Sachs tries to connect Beethoven’s Ninth to the works of Heinrich Henine, Byron, Eugene Delacroix, Nietzsche, and Goethe.
Part three of the book is entittled “Imaging the Ninth.”  I recommend reading along with a score of the ninth and a recording.  If you don’t have a score then at least listen to the ninth as Harvey Sachs gives you a verbal discription in painstaking and engrossing detail.  This is a fantastic section.  I am reminded of the movie about Beethoven “Imortal Beloved” In the movie there is a performance of the finale of the 9th and it turns into a fantasy sequiece of what Beethoven may have been imagining when he wrote it.  I love Mr. Sachs verbal discription of  this amazing work!
Part 4 of the book is about how music and musicians moved forward after the debut of the 9th.  Every great composer after Beethoven talked about how intemidating it was to compose a Symphony after the 9th.  Beethoven had an enormous impact on Hector Berlioz.  By the end of Berlioz life he had become know as “The French Beethoven”.  His shadow towered over Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Malher just to name a few.  His impact on Wagner is also discussed.
This is just a highly readable, very informative book by a highly skilled writer.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves music.  You do not have to be a trained musician to enjoy this book.  It will benefit the novice as well as the highly informed musician.

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Things Happen For A Reason…

Do you believe in fate or destiny? I do. I met an interesting musician on a plane recently and I have to share this with you.

It was very early in the morning. I get on the plane and take my seat. As is my custom when I travel, I plan to read and listen to music. The passenger in the next seat is a young Hispanic man. He also has a book and an iPod ready to go. He looked tired so I was thinking that he wouldn’t have to read very long before he fell asleep.

I was reading a book called “The Ninth, Beethoven and the World in 1824” by Harvey Sachs. (I plan to blog about this book very soon.) The passenger next to me asked me, “Excuse me, but I see from the title of that book that you are interested in music. Are you by chance a musician? Well, this is a question I love and hate to answer. In my core being I am and always will be a highly trained dedicated musician, but my gig that pays the bills is very different. So I said what I usually say: ” Well, yes and no. My educational background is that of a musician, but I don’t make my living that way.”

My fellow passenger introduced himself as Daniel Ochoa Valez. He said he was traveling from Mexico City to Rochester New York. I asked if he was a musician. He said he was studying composition. He was currently studying in Mexico City but he had also studied in Germany, and The Netherlands. “Why are you traveling to Rochester?” I asked.

“A friend of mine has helped me obtain a commission.” said Daniel. Daniel had traveled on a bus from Mexico City to Laredo, Texas, cleared customs, got on a second bus to San Antonio, got on a train to Dallas and was now sitting in the seat next to me. He was extremely tired. But he was on an important journey that would ultimately result in a new piece of music for the planet.

“Wow!” , I said. ” Tell me more about this.”

Daniel has a friend that is the principle Organist for a Church in Rochester. He got Daniel a commission to write a piece for the Church Organ. The Organ is a replica of a Baroque organ in Europe. In preparation for the process of writing the piece, Daniel was flying to Rochester to see the Organ, learn about it’s capabilities, and discuss the composition with the Organist that would perform the debut. He said his friend had figured out ways for the Organ to play quarter tones. Quarter tones are notes between notes. Our western culture does not traditionally contain quarter tones. Other cultures like China, and India regularly use quarter tones in their music. Charles Ives was one of the first American composers to experiment with quarter tones and many modern day composers may employ them.

I found this very fascinating. I asked Daniel what modern day composers he liked. Daniel listed Olivier Messiaen, John Cage, Ligeti, Berio , and George Crumb. This made him even more interesting to me. I said, “You must like Prepared Piano.” Daniel said that he not only enjoyed it, he had written prepared piano pieces. (Prepared Piano means inserting things into the piano to change it’s sound or playing the piano with foreign objects.” It turns a piano into a virtual synthesiser.)

He told me about his You-Tube site. I told him about my blog. We exchanged contact information and agreed to stay in touch.

Over the weekend I looked at his videos and really enjoyed his music. I e-mailed him and told him I was going to post him on my blog.

I was reading the other day that Thom Yorke (Lead Singer of Radiohead) had a conversation with a recording studio A & R man. The A & R guy asked where all the talented musicians were. Thom  yelled at him that they were everywhere but record companies are too afraid to take chances on new music! I agree with Thom Yorke, there is talent everywhere. Not only are record companies afraid of new music, so are most listeners. This is a real shame since so much great music is being written but not getting heard.

There is this idea of the “Socially Aware Non-Attenders”. People that understand modern Achitecture and Art but disconnect and can’t seem to support the equivalant when it comes to music.

This music will challenge you. You must listen to this music with an open mind and heart. You should listen to each piece a few times. Absorb it. Drink it in.

My favorite is Nebula. This compostion was inspired by a poem by Hermann Hesse the Nobel Prize winning author. The poem is about how we can be so disconnected from the people around us that we wander like trees in a fog bank. We can not see or move toward another tree; and yet, there isn’t any fog in real life. Enjoy the music of Daniel Orhoa Valdez.

Nebula by Daniel Ochoa Valdez

This string quartet is in three movements. Introduction-Intermezzo- and Finale.

Caribous by Danel Ochoa Valdez

An experimental piece for prepared and amplified piano. Premiere at the University of Siegen, Summer Semester 2009’s Arrangement Concert, organized by Prof. Martin Herchenröder. Music composed and performed by Daniel Ochoa. Winner of the Second Prize at the Carl’s Award composition competition at the Ahtelas New Music Festival 2010
Night Sky by Daniel Ochoa Valdez

If you would like to hear more of his work you can serch You-Tube for D8aV and it will connect to his sight. I hope you enjoyed his music as much as I did. I look forward to hearing the composition for organ.

Daniel and I were not like the trees in the poem by Hesse. We took the time to make a connection. I for one, am glad I did not stay in my fog bank. Good luck Daniel and keep exploring new horizons!

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