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Worried I 'Just Don't Really Get' Music


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#1 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 16:52

I heard a recording of Beethoven's Eroica symphony yesterday and afterwards for some reason it got me thinking that I have never ever thought that the famous 'wrong' entry of the horn at the end of the 1st movement development sounded incorrect, and this is going back to when I first heard the piece as a child.  To me, the Eb major broken chord of the main theme works perfectly well against the violins despite them implying the dominant seventh harmony.

 

I understand even Wagner 'corrected' the second violins to play G instead of Ab to suggest the tonic rather than dominant seventh! And others assumed the horn entry was written in the tenor clef.

 

I've listened to these alternatives and they certainly don't sound any better than Beethoven's version.  And that's what's worrying me: that I should be disturbed by – or at least recognise – his polytonality.  But it has never sounded in any way wrong to me.

 

Now the fact that I've managed only a laughable grade 3 and struggle with the aural sections kind of makes obvious that I'm no polymath who understands Beethoven's genius, which makes me worried that I will never progress no matter how much I try because I simply don't have the basic machinery to 'get' music.

 

I don't expect the teachers on here to understand where I'm coming from (cue fatalism, self-fulfilling prophecy, focus practice etc), but I wonder if other learners, particularly adults coming late to music, have experienced similar feelings of inadequacy and thoughts that they will hit a plateau much earlier in their musical journey than they would have hoped simply because they don't have fundamentally what others do?


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#2 Norway

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 17:53

Can I join the feelings of inadequacy club please? I think there might be alot of people in that club!


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#3 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 18:14

Teacher here.  I get these feelings all the time, despite having multiple distinctions myself and a studio full of hard-working, successful students.

 

I've worried a lot about my lack of talent over the years.  So much so that I have finally taken up the position that "if talent exists, then I don't have it, but what I do have is a lot of hard work."

 

Distinction in Grade 3 piano is hardly laughable!  Ditto Grade 5 theory.  These exams aren't exactly easy.  I'd say you "get" music just fine!

 

Look up "Imposter Syndrome."


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#4 corenfa

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 01:46

I'm a pianist and I really don't get on with Beethoven sonatas (fine with his orchestral stuff), and most things by Liszt. I used to feel inadequate about that. I stopped. If I had to play something from this repertoire I would make a good go, but I don't "get" it and I never listen to anything in this set for fun. I know pianists who don't like Chopin and Bach. The world's big enough for all of us.
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#5 Banjogirl

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 08:18

I can't stand Mozart. Our just about anything from the classical period. I find it twee, predictable and uninteresting. My boys' piano teacher genuinely thinks I am wrong. She thinks it is wrong to dislike a composer that other people think is a genius. I'd never tell her that her preferences were wrong but apparently not liking Mozart is a deficiency or not even a thing at all! Well I don't. There is only one piece by Mozart that I like and I'm going off that one now that I've heard it twice. I've never understood people who think that a person is wrong for disliking something. How arrogant.
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#6 musicalmalc

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 08:34

Beethoven's choral works are appalling to sing as well - feels like he just wrote string parts and re-labelled them as vocal lines, very 'jumpy', well at least tenor lines are.


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#7 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 10:56

I just listened to it passively twice and couldn't detect where you mean. Have you got a rough timing?


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#8 Aquarelle

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 14:02

The Eroica was one of my set works at A Level music so this brings back memories as, of course, we had to learn about the early horn entry. Our  teacher (much loved! )simply said it was part of Beethoven's desire to push back the limits of the standard classical form and  just one example of the many ways in which he represents the culmination of the Classical period and the anticipation of the Romantic. I love all his symphonies - except that I am not very keen on the ninth.


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#9 chris13

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 14:56

I don't have the score of the Eroica so I am unable to see the details of harmony that the original poster draws our attention to and even if I did I wouldn't  feel qualified to comment. I was reminded of a couple of measures (38 and 39)  in the first movement of Beethoven's Op27 no 2 sonata which are identical apart from using D natural in the second bar. Is this in any way analogous to the point being made with the Eroica ? (The question is offered in the spirit that no question can be a silly question ! )


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#10 Hildegard

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 08:44

I heard a recording of Beethoven's Eroica symphony yesterday and afterwards for some reason it got me thinking that I have never ever thought that the famous 'wrong' entry of the horn at the end of the 1st movement development sounded incorrect, and this is going back to when I first heard the piece as a child.  To me, the Eb major broken chord of the main theme works perfectly well against the violins despite them implying the dominant seventh harmony.

 

You are quite right: the early horn entry is not particularly discordant. I think the point is that, after a development which explories more distant keys than any other work of the age (Am and Em in the  key of Eb major), followed by exciting dominant preparation with tremolo strings, "the suspense becomes too much for one of the horns" (as Donald Tovey so memorably puts it) who "softly gives out the tonic chord of the theme - the orchestra instantly awakens and settles down to the recapitulation". In other words, it's more a psychological trick than a harmonic device. It is, as Aquarelle wrote, one of many examples of Beethoven moving away from the balanced formalism of the Classical style towards the tonal drama of Romanticism.

There is, incidentally, no doubt that Beethoven intended the notes he wrote. His pupil and assistant Ferdinand Ries was at the first rehearsal and recalled saying to Beethoven "Can't the damned hornist count? - it's so obviously wrong". He said Beethoven very nearly boxed him on the ear for such a daft question and did not forgive his pupil's mistake for a very long time!

There's a dramatic (if fanciful) reconstruction at 3'24": https://www.youtube....h?v=dJy5NzDq2Dk


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#11 Tenor Viol

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 20:47

We're perfectly entitled to have our own preferences and dislikes. 

When I was younger, I was very much a typical 'classical music' enthusiast and loved everything Beethoven. As I've got older, my musical interests have widened and changed. 

One result is I have trouble with some of the Beethoven symphonies, particularly 3, 7, and 9 all of which I have heard live several times although not recently. It might be because it is difficult to pull these works off well, but these days I don't really like those three symphonies. I have also in recent years played 3 and 7 in various orchestras and have come to realise that sometimes Beethoven forgets that notes on cellos are not necessarily next to each other the way they are on a keyboard... This is weird as the cello sonatas for example, or the piano trios are great pieces. 

There are people who seem to think that "inset composer name" is a great composer therefore everything they wrote is a masterpiece and you 'must' like everything they wrote. This is nonsense. Even great composers have off days, not everything is a masterpiece, and you're entitled to your own preferences. 


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#12 Hildegard

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 07:39

Even great composers have off days, not everything is a masterpiece

 

One has only to listen to Beethoven's Battle Symphony ("Wellington's Victory") for proof of that! Mind you, it did make him a lot of money.


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#13 Bantock

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 12:55

Even great composers have off days, not everything is a masterpiece

 
One has only to listen to Beethoven's Battle Symphony ("Wellington's Victory") for proof of that! Mind you, it did make him a lot of money.

I agree - but it's also hilarious in its awfulness,
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