Dec 16, 2011
The dogs woke me about 4 am, so I lay on the sofa this morning with them to calm them down. NPR was playing the overnight classical music show, which called to my attention that today is the 241st birthday of Ludwig Van Beethoven. There is no authentic record of the date of his birth; however, the registry of his baptism, in a Roman Catholic service at the Parish of St. Regius on 17 December, 1770, survives.
This is not the place for an essay on Beethoven, but let it be remembered that he was the major composer of the period that moved from the Classical and Romantic eras of western art music. A forum at All About Jazz debated whether Beethoven was an influence on jazz artists. As one commenter wrote:
Beethoven's use of Diminished harmony, key centers moving in non-circle of 4th motions, extended forms, use of soloists, used Trombones and percussion, and his use of chromatics all can be traced to influences on Jazz through association to people like Stravinsky, Wagner, Debusy who were all influenced by Beethoven
Another added that:
Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach -- in their own times -- were each more famous for their improvisation skills than for their skills in composition...I don't suppose we'll ever know what Beethoven's large-scale improvisations were really like. Composition is supposed to be like improvisation in slow motion, so I suppose we could guess. I've always imagined Beethoven's improvisations to be something like Keith Jarret's Koln Concerts... but louder. At the end of a performance by Beethoven, it was common for there to be several broken strings on the piano.
And what would Beethoven sound if arranged by jazz musicians? Click here to go to a “Beethoven Jazz Trio” by John Stebbe. Enjoy!