It's pretty scary to think that one can pretty must waste one's life watching stuff on a site with the initials YT, given the sheer volume of material there. And you can spend all that time with the really good stuff, not the silly stuff. I remember reading somewhere that the amount of data on YT is equal to the entire rest of teh internets put together, although I can't site that source, of course (typical loser, that 3CM).
One example of what I consider the really good stuff is a 2003 BBC film about the first private performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, a.k.a. the "Eroica". Why choose this video, out of everything on YT? The reason (not to mention the embedded link) is below the flip....
First, here's the embedded video link:
You can actually watch it, if you want, and comment afterwards (not that anyone really does, of course), for a reason to be mentioned at the end of this SNLC. The video is a bit less than 90 minutes long, although if you really want to show your music nerd credentials, you could interrupt your listening starting at around 8 PM CST, again for a reason to be mentioned later.
As is 3CM's usual habit, I tried to look for archived reviews in UK papers (The Guardian, etc.), but no such luck. The most reviews of this TV movie have been at, of all places, Amazon.com, here. Reviews from Amazon.co.uk are here.
It might be expected that, given 3CM's general musical tastes, he'd be inclined to give this the BBC TV equivalent of 'two thumbs up' and to say that "everybody needs to watch this movie", "it's a really great TV movie about Beethoven", blah blah. Obviously if you're interested, you can watch it and make up your own mind.
Speaking just for myself, the movie is....OK. It's entertaining and definitely has its good points, not to mention a great work of classical music as the cent(re)piece of the whole show after all. But I found some of the "music video" fast editing rather distracting and too much, especially toward the end. There has also been some criticism in the Amazon comments, on each side of the pond, that the performance by the musicians in the film is too accurate to be believable. That totally makes sense, given that if these musicians were seeing this score for the very first time, music that they've never seen before, a symphony on unprecedented technical scale and complexity, there is no way in the world that they would play it even close to perfectly. The filmmakers try to capture some of that by showing a mildly scrappy performance of the first part of the first movement, which the ensemble is playing for the first time, of course. This causes Beethoven (Ian Hart) to stop the musicians in frustration and give them a bit of a dressing-down. Then, when the orchestra's leader (Peter Hanson, a musician in real life, with the Orchestre Revolutionaire et Romantique) strikes up the band for the next go, it goes smoothly. Except....
.....for the moment at 26:10, with the 'early' horn entry that Ferdinand Ries, Beethoven's pupil (Leo Bill), comments on out loud, enough to stop the music and get Beethoven riled up again. You can hear the subsequent reply from the copyist Sukowaty (Anton Lesser), that "That's my hand; there's no mistake". That much is historically true, Ries interrupting the performance, even if the actual details of the interruption aren't 100% accurate. In retrospect, it would have been a little bit more accurate, without much loss in sonic enjoyment, for the orchestra to have done just one performance in the studio, straight through, and use that for the movie. It may not have been perfect, but it would have been pretty good, and good enough for a fictionalized 'first performance'.
Of course, this is very much a BBC "Masterpiece Theatre" type production, with everything looking veddy, veddy English rather than Austrian or German, down to the actors themselves. But having said that, English actors do tend to be pretty darn good. Ian Hart maybe overdoes the irascible genius portrait of Ludwig van, making you wonder why Ries would continue to put up with such treatment. Maybe it's just that Ries did recognize Beethoven's genius and was willing to put up with his ill temper to be around that, and maybe have a little of it rub off on him.
One such incident (mild spoiler alert) of Beethoven being too much of a jerk in his treatment of Ries comes from the surprise historical cameo by no less than Franz Joseph Haydn (Frank Finlay). Ries sees Haydn come in during the 3rd movement scherzo, and tries to tell Beethoven after the scherzo has ended. Beethoven snaps at Ries, of course, until Ries tells him who's just come into the room. Beethoven, a former pupil of Haydn, then greets the great man as graciously as he can, recovering himself. Then follows this passage where Beethoven introduces Ries:
Beethoven: "Sir, my student, Ries. He's an idiot."Now you get the historical in-joke. BTW, there's a bit of irony in one line not long after, where Haydn refers to "my dear wife". In real life, his marriage to Maria Anna Keller was an utter disaster, and produced no children. Haydn had really been in love with Maria Anna's sister, Josepha Keller, who did not return Haydn's affections. So Haydn married Maria Anna. Bad, bad idea, as they separated in due course.
Haydn: "All students are idiots. It's traditional."
Another aspect worth noting, perhaps slightly teetering towards political correctness, is a comparison of how several of the women react towards hearing the new symphony, vs. the men such as Count Dietrichsen (Tim Pigott-Smith, who in real life leans rather left politically, to my understanding). It's also interesting, again perhaps borderline-PC, to see how the servants react with fair sympathy to hearing the new work. But music was a lot more pervasive in people's lives generally then, it seems, not just among a self-chosen "elite".
Still, overall, it's great that an institution like the BBC would make a TV film drama based on classical music. Few media institutions would, especially now. But the ultimate reason why I chose this video for this evening's SNLC has to do with this weekend's program with the St. Louis Symphony (full program note here):
Brett Dean: Testament
Brett Dean: Viola Concerto (with the composer as soloist)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in Eb, op. 55 ("Eroica")
If you want, you can listen to the concert from the KWMU website (90.7 KWMU-1). Self is not one of those listening on line, because he's at the hall at the time of this auto-posting. Thus I won't be back for a few hours, to respond to comments, if any, and spread mojo.
In the meantime, feel free to watch the video, listen to the internet broadcast, or neither of the above, besides the usual SNLC protocol, namely your loser stories of the week.....