Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bach, Mozart, Beethoven! GAH!

"Gah" indeed. So what of it? I think that we give at least one of these composers a bit too much credit. I don't suppose you know who I mean, but that's alright for now. You'll know by the end of reading this. 

Close your eyes and hum to yourself the tune, Fur Elise, then open your eyes. What composer was that? That was a Bagatelle composed by L. v Beethoven, WoO. 59, written April 27, 1810. The composer was 40 years old, and nobody knows who Elise was. The score was lost and not published until some 55 years later. 

If you're not familiar with the tune, listen to it here - You'll recognize it as soon as you hear the first few seconds.

Now do the same, and think about the haunting melody of Toccata and Fugue in d minor. Once again, if you're not familiar with it, listen here, and you should know it in the first few seconds:

Now, that you know what that is, you should know that was composed by J.S. Bach somewhere around 1705 as a warm-up piece for Sundays at church. It is BWV number 565.

Now that you know at least one Beethoven tune and one Bach tune, do me a favor, close your eyes and think of a Mozart tune, any will suffice. 

Keep thinking... think... wait? You can't come up with one, can you?

Here's some popular tunes and their composers, so you know who they are and who they are not:
Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata, The Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, Pathetique.
Bach - Fugue in G Minor, Minuet in G Major
Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsodies
Chopin - Funeral March, Revolutionary Etude
Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker Suite
Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue
Rimsky Korsakov - Flight of the Bumblebee
Brahms - Lullaby

So none of those are Mozart.

Now, that you might have thought of Rondo Alla Turca, A Little Night Music (NOT the Sondheim musical, by the way), or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or you may have not. 

So let me ask, why is Bach and Mozart so popular if of 627 published works, you may only know three of them, yet with Beethoven composing less than 150 works, you know more at first thought. Bach had well over 1000 published works, but only a handful of popular ones. Why do we all know the names Bach and Mozart? I studied music history, and quite honestly, I can only hum the melody to about 30 Mozart pieces, but I can at least one movement from each of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. I didn't know the amount of Bach that I know until I started playing piano. Why do we know at least 2 of nine Beethoven Symphonies but none of Mozart's 41? Why do we know more Beethoven than Bach, who wrote twice as much as Mozart? We know more Chopin than Mozart and Bach, and he had less than 100 composed pieces. Seriously? Bach invented the way we play the keyboard today, so to a pianist, learning his music is vital. But Mozart? Choose who you wish. Mozart is overrated.

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