BEETHOVEN | Symphony No 7 [....]
Outstanding contribution, Brian
was an instant favorite . . . and then, from time to time I would hear a recording broadcast on the radio, and I'd think, How can they suck all the juice out of this great piece, like that?
Incidentally, I am a little nonplussed at all the love the Fifth
is not getting these days . . . but it's another piece I have an ineradicable sentimental attachment to; first I knew of it was not the ta-ta-ta-TAA
'Fate' bit, but—curiously—the last movement, which we played in transcription in my junior high band (heavily edited, it must have been, of course). So the Opus 67
has always been joy and energy, to me.
The other (much later) sentimental tie to the Fifth
At Wooster, each year we had an end-of-year drop-the-needle test (somewhere, I may possibly still have the run-down of the required listening for each year . . . essentially, a list of "what pieces from the literature would it be a complete embarrassment to send a music graduate out into the world, without his familiarization?"). Needless to say, we music majors in general (and we hot music jocks in particular) couldn't be bothered to do any more than 'remedial' listening to the list (you see Mendelssohn's 'Italian'
, and you check it right off, e.g.)
For the test, you were played a minute (I think) of each, and you were asked to identify (1) piece, (2) composer, (3) genre, and (4) period. And if recollection serves, if you correctly identified genre and period for all ten, and perhaps piece and/or composer for at least half, you passed (reasonably easy threshold, which was another reason not to invest more time than strictly necessary in the listening lab). Nonetheless, as easy as a 'pass' would be to earn, there was a geeky contingent among us who would scorn any of the others who missed a piece ident (all in fun).
The list for Freshman year was especially cake-ish, so my buddy (fellow composition student) Wayne and I probably did next to zero listening; and true to expectations, as we sat down to the test, piece by piece went by which were an effortless breeze to identify.
Except one. It was slow and quiet, nothing stood out as a telltale identifier. Wayne and I glanced at one another, we were each puzzled. Then there was a crescendo
, and the teacher pulled off the needle just before the big chord at the downbeat—and both Wayne's pencil and mine sprang to the page in at-last-knowledgeable relief. For that chord that we just missed hearing, we both knew for the fortissimo
C major chord at the start of the fourth movement of the Beethoven Fifth
And we both really enjoyed the teacher's coy tricksiness in playing such an obscure passage from such an obviously well-known work.