The pedestrian truth about Beethoven’s Fifth

New light on Beethoven’s Fifth

3 minute read
'I can't get a handle on this composing software.'
'I can't get a handle on this composing software.'
Vienna, March 23, 1804

Dear Cousin Moishe:

I hope this letter finds you well.

As for me, I am now deaf as a bedpost, my back is hurting, and I can't find a barber who will give me a straightforward trim instead of one of those frou-frou stylings.

But you will be pleased to learn that I continue to compose. I"'m now putting the finishing touches on my Fifth Symphony.

This work is drawn from an episode that occurred when I was three years old. At that time Father was collecting Siamese art, you may or may not recall. As I'm sure you remember, Father never paid his bills. And, so one morning we were awakened by a gosh-awful banging on the front door.

As an aside, I have to tell you why the person was banging on the door instead of ringing the doorbell. It's because my cheapskate Father had hired an itinerant Patagonian electrician to install the bell, and it never worked.

Mother looked out the bedroom window and saw that the door-banger was the art dealer. She looked around for Father. Eventually, we found him in the basement, at his computer, entering information on his FaceBook about the Siamese art he had bought (and hadn't paid for). Mother tried to get Father to go up and talk to the art dealer and stop the infernal door-banging.

I'll say this for the art dealer: He had a musical soul, because his beating was rhythmical.

At any rate, Father finally went up and spoke with the art dealer. I took advantage of my father's absence to go on the computer and browse some very spicy pornography. But I digress.

I don't know how the matter was settled, but I didn't see any Siamese art around the house afterward.

I never forgot the incident, so when I started writing my Fifth Symphony, I recalled that episode, and I wove in the door-banging, and the argument between Mother and Father, and the argument between the art dealer and Father, and the silence that eventually ensued.

So you see, when people ask where do I get my inspiration, the answer is simple: I get it from everyday life, which is all around me. I mean, where else would I get it?

Surely you recall that Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-minor came about because one day his wife, Anna-Magdalena, was nagging him something awful. So Johann went to the organ and starting playing what turned out to be the great work in order to drown her out. When you come right down to it, we composers are as pragmatic as anyone else.

Incidentally, I'm still composing with pen and ink, since I can't get a handle on my computer's composing software. But that's fine by me. Composing by computer— wouldn't that take the soul out of my music?

When the symphony is finished, I'll try to get someone to record the piano version as I play it. I'll try to post it on You-Tube for you. But as you know, I'm way behind the technology curve. So if I can't figure out how to do post it, I'll send you a CD by snail-mail.

Your loving cousin,

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