REVIEW ☆ The First Four Notes


Lar belief Beethoven was not deaf when he wrote the Fifth He traces the Fifth’s influence in China Russia and the United States Emerson and Thoreau were passionate fans and shows how the masterpiece was used by both the Allies and the Nazis in World War II Altogether a fascinating piece of musical detective work a treat for music lovers of every stripe. This book is as dense and self indulgent as you might expect if like me you are gobsmacked by the thought of anyone having written 282 pages about four notes The level of detail here puts Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy to shame But look again at that clever title or better yet read it aloud because the title has the same rhythm as its subject Moreover and to be fair Mr Guerrieri writes not only about the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony but also about the work as a whole together with its enduring impact throughout western culture and indeed world music He's done his homework He's an excellent writer And some of what he says is brilliantIf you love Beethoven's work and are intrigued by the way a masterpiece like the Fifth Symphony can influence or be appropriated by radically different kinds of people over two tumultuous centuries then this is a book you might enjoy It's also worth reading as a textbook example of how a confident writer marks uncharted territory I learned a lot from this book but Mr Guerrieri made me think and now I want to read something fast and trashy

READ & DOWNLOAD The First Four Notes

The First Four NotesA uniue and revelatory book of music history that examines in great depth what is perhaps the best known and most popular symphony ever written and its four note opening which has fascinated musicians historians and philosophers for the last two hundred years Music critic Matthew Guerrieri reaches back before Beethoven’s time to examine what The First. This book is a brilliant piece of scholarship that talks of the multiple interpretations and distortions that the da da da dum opening of Beethoven's 5th Symphony has had since he penned it in 1808 It has been appropriated by philosophers demagogues writers and advertisers over the past two centuries There are some interesting side notes I was ignorant or had forgotten that the terms left and right in politics stemmed from Hegel or that the modern phone dial tone is based on the 5ths enigmatic theme but the tone oscillates between academic and collouial I found it very very boring at many moments and sort of interesting at others I think that the book by Gardiner about Bach's choral works or Eric Siblin's The Cello Suites were interesting non fiction writings about a set of classical musical pieces Perhaps I was asking too much of Guerrieri to make 270 pages about 4 notes captivating all the way throughRecommended only for the Beethoven purist who wants to see how this particular opening has aged If you want to know about Beethoven himself stick with Jan Swafford or Maynard Solomon's biosI neglected to mention that I looked for several of the recordings of the 5th he mentioned The first two have relatively poor sound uality both recorded in the early 20th C which my ears have a hard time with On the other hand I have the Karajan and Klemperer versions which are references The Toscanini is in mono unfortunately My favorites are Kleiber's and Gardiner's and also Glenn Gould's recording of the Lizst transcription This latter is particularly useful to find the melody which in orchestral settings gets lost in my ears with all the emotion expressed in the brassesThe author also talks about Charles Ives' Concord Sonata I got Lubimov's version but was underwhelmed If anyone has a suggestion of a superior recording I am all ears Not could I find a satisfactory recording of Hans von Bülow's NirwanaI think that most people including myself may not listen to the 5th beyond the first 4 notes and the Allegro con brio first movement In fact the whole piece and especially the resolution in IV Allegro is absolutely amazing Listening to the last movement you can hear the sense of triumph of Beethoven over his increasing deafness which he laments in the first movementI am still listening to the 5th at least once a month and finding it spectacular my 7yo daughter regularly reuests it in the car

Matthew Guerrieri ¾ 1 REVIEW

REVIEW ☆ The First Four Notes ß ❮BOOKS❯ ✯ The First Four Notes ⚡ Author Matthew Guerrieri – A uniue and revelatory book of music history that examines in great depth what is perhaps the best known and most popular symphony ever written and its four note opening which has fascinated musicians A uniueEpubmight have influenced him in writing his Fifth Symphony and forward into our own time to describe the ways in which the Fifth has in turn asserted its influence He uncovers possible sources for the famous opening notes in the rhythms of ancient Greek poetry and certain French Revolutionary songs and symphonies Guerrieri confirms that contrary to popu. Once in conversation with Antal Dorati then conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC he told me “You must remember that every time you perform the Beethoven Fifth Symphony in concert half the audience will never have heard it all the way through another third of that has never heard it performed at all and the final third has never heard it played by a professional orchestra So to almost all of your audience even the Beethoven Fifth will be a new experience” Hard as that is to believe it is probably true Yet everyone has heard the opening three Gs and an E flat in some form during their lifetimes The first four notes have represented Fate Death God and victory plus who knows how many other things but to this author they represent much than mere symbols; he traces those four notes through the rest of music history philosophy politics and mythology in a dense but rewarding study of a signal work in the artistic history of the West He goes into the myths surrounding the work—no Beethoven was not deaf when he wrote it for example and with infinite patience traces its transmogrification into pianists’ repertoires as well as rock studios I must admit that the most thrilling part of the C minor for me is the transition from the third movement scherzo into the glorious finale and the first appearance of the trombones in full voice It almost always depending on the performance lifts me partially out of my seat and makes me want to stand and shout But those first four notesPart of the discussion is about how the Germans struggled to maintain intellectual possession of the work Various French and English philosophers and aestheticians tried to kidnap the intellectual and cultural roots of the work but never succeeded Perhaps that explains in part why the Allies could use the Fifth as a symbol of winning the war—in Morse Code the three shorts and a long of the opening measures represents the letter “V” and yet the Germans kept playing the symphony as often as possible as well The Fifth soon became an international citizen usable by anybody who needed a psychological lift It will help you understand the book better if you have some musical education but it is not vital Philosophy might be help as background because it is the philosophical arguments that collide around the work that make it such a significant piece of art throughout the over 200 years since it was written Guerrieri touches on some of the technical problems of those opening notes As a conducting student in grad school I recall a very funny yet touching class in which one of the brightest of the students a pianist got “stuck” at the top of his downbeat unable to proceed until he lowered his arms shook out the tension and tried again to proceed to the downbeat The reason he froze was that the downbeat to the Fifth leads to silence—the piece starts with an eighth rest—and must convey not only the exact place for the downbeat and the resulting silence but the tempo at which the 3 eighth notes that follow must be played Then the conductor and the orchestra are confronted by a relatively short fermata or hold the cut off of which is the downbeat to the next measure which also ends in silence with three eighth notes followed by a longer hold Take my word for it if you have never tried to do it it is one of the sweatiest moments in any young conductor’s life to negotiate those few measures Then there are tempo problems throughout the symphony’s four movements The author spends considerable time discussing differences between conductors and Beethoven who had the opportunity to use a metronome and mark the tempi he wanted Most critics and musicians are in agreement that most of his markings are inappropriate for the music itself and the arguments go on This book is not light summer reading but it may lead to some pretty impressive summer listening and certainly a greater understanding of one of the most iconic single pieces of music in all of the history of the art Stick with it and realize how fascinating four notes—the first four notes—of a piece of music can be