Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Ludwig van Beethoven was born on or around this date in 1770. Although the exact date remains unclear, Beethoven’s baptism was registered for December 17, 1770. At the time, Catholic officials required newborn babies to be baptized within twenty-four hours of birth. Strangely, throughout his life Beethoven insisted that his actual year of birth was 1772, despite evidence to the contrary. In celebration, here is the late Mariss Jansons’ vibrant recording of Beethoven’s Symphony …

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Remembering Nikolaus Harnoncourt

German conductor and early music pioneer Nikolaus Harnoncourt passed away on Saturday. He was 86. Harnoncourt began his musical career as a cellist in the Vienna Symphony. In 1953, he founded the period-instrument ensemble Concentus Musicus Wien. His early discography included baroque works by Purcell, J.S. Bach, Monteverdi, and Rameau. Later, his repertoire grew to include Romantic and twentieth-century music. (In 2009, he recorded Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess). Harnoncourt will be remembered as a passionate …

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La Folia’s Endless Possibilities

Good composers borrow. Great ones steal. -Igor Stravinsky La Folia, the ancient theme/chord progression which originated in Portuguese dance music as early as 1577, was borrowed (and stolen) by composers throughout the Baroque era. Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Handel, and Jean-Baptiste Lully were among the composers who took advantage of the theme’s endlessly rich musical possibilities. Later composers also paid homage to La Folia. It surfaces briefly at this moment in the second movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Franz Liszt included it …

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