December 19, 2008
With Christmas getting near, I want to share with you some music by a man who I consider to be one of the greatest Europeans, Johann Sebastian Bach.
What is the connection with Christmas? Well I don’t know exactly, maybe it’s a childhood association, or maybe it’s the fact that the music seems to glisten like Christmas tree lights, or maybe it’s the dark minor key mystery that associates it with the darkest time of the year when magical things are expected to happen?
Whatever the reason, this music always reminds me of Christmas!
December 12, 2008
This is the piece of music which many people argue is the greatest of all music. It is the 9th Symphony of Beethoven. It certainly has a valid claim for consideration as the greatest. This version of it, by the conductor Herbert von Karajan, is one of the most majestic interpretations.
Bethoven himself was a great European, who, I feel sure, would have welcomed the events of the present day, regarding the unification of Europe. He was one of those who supported the ideals of the French Revolution, and when Napoleon rose to power, Beethoven believed the new leader would bring the ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity to the whole continent, ushering in a new golden age of enlightenment and peace. He even dedicated his 3rd Symphony, called the Eroica (Heroic) to Napoleon. When Napoleon had himself proclaimed Emperor, Beethoven’s hopes were dashed, and he angrily scratched out the dedication. He realised that all Napoleon wanted was power, and not the welfare of the European people.
The final movement of the 9th contains the famous tune which has been adopted as the anthem of the European Union. You can hear it in the second video of Karajan’s performance, which appears below this.