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Music

Beethoven's joke and a song contest tune

Music making that is audacious but never over the top: Anima eterna, performing on period instruments during a three-concert residency at the Beethovenfest.

Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 is full of jokes. Two hundred years later, we no longer understand the musical syntax of Beethoven's time, so we don't get the punch lines - and there's nothing more laborous than having to explain a joke, even the musical variety.

But there is a nice little anecdote to go along with the piece. In his Beethoven biography of 1860, Anton Felix Schindler, the composer's onetime personal secretary, stated that the metronome, having recently been invented by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, had inspired the second movement. The symphony was finished in 1812 and the metronome invented two years later, however. This is not the only instance of Schindler's lively imagination. But it's a nice story nonetheless - and listening to the relentless tick-ticking rhythm of that movement, it fits perfectly.

Daishin Kashimoto. Photo: Matthias Creutziger

Violinist Daishin Kashimoto

Johannes Brahms's Violin Sonata No. 2 is sometimes called the "Thun Sonata" or the "Mastersingers Sonata." The first name has to do with the fact that he wrote it while vacationing at Lake Thun in Switzerland. The second refers to the opening melody, which sounds suspiciously like one from Richard Wagner's "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg." "Morgendlich leuchtend…" (In the morning glow) is the inspired tune with which the young Walther von Stolzing wins the song contest in the opera plot.

Ludwig van Beethoven:
Symphony No. 8 in F Major, op. 93
Anima Eterna Bruges
Jos van Immerseel, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Welle, Bonn (DW) in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn, on October 2, 2015

Johannes Brahms:
Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, op. 100
Daishin Kashimoto, violin
Konstantin Lifschitz, piano
Recorded by Deutsche Welle, Bonn (DW) in the Beethoven House, Bonn, on September 9, 2015

Rebroadcasting rights: one broadcast before January 17, 2017

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