Thursday, November 29, 2007

Number nine...Number nine....Number nine

Here's what I think about Beethoven movies.
It seems that every bloody one of them has as it's dramatic pivot the first performance of the ninth symphony.
The music so overwhelms the movie that you'd be better off listening to the CD (or, in my case the Szell/Chicago vinyl version...whoops, I mean Cleveland).

"Immortal Beloved" was an interesting riff and certainly had some psychological merit.
The music didn't ruin it of course.
The music never ruins it just overwhelms.
Makes the movie irrelevant.
But it's public domain, innit?
Cheap bastards!

This last one about the girl conducting Beethoven conducting the orchestra is ludicrous.
But the music was very moving.
I guess what is knurling my driveshaft here is the cheating on the part of the movie maker.
Do a Beethoven movie with it's own music. Music that is part of the story instead of just being a cheap way to lure people like me into watching it just because it's Louie.
Try a real challenge.
Do a Beethoven SILENT movie.
Make a movie that deaf people can appreciate.
Where all the dialog is on pages from his tagbuch.

Screw it, these things seem much more important in the middle of the night.

Maybe getting tossed out of Benaroya for asking a flute player if she'd
listen to my flute concerto is God's way of protecting me from B-nine overload

What would be wrong with the European Union getting an anthem that spoke to the 200 years since that overblown song about worms screwing?



Artistically speaking, it's not even that well written. It wanders around for half an hour then suddenly you get the big thrill, which it is, of course, for the first several iterations, but it keeps plugging on until long after you should have rolled over and lit the cigarette.

It is about sex, you do realize that, don't you?
It's a big stupid grin on the face of a score.

Any all this has been said before.
By people who know what they are talking about.
Literate people
People with educations


Blogger Alex Shapiro said...

I'd much prefer hearing you discuss Beethoven than any "educated" musicologist out there. You are wiser and far more entertaining. I have yet to meet a musicologist (ooh, sounds painfully medical) or music historian with a sense of humor, nor one who talks frankly, as I also do, about sex in music.
Music IS sex.
If you're doing it right :-)

Thanks, Glenn, if you're checking in, for your kind comments about my CD cover. That pic and the ones within the booklet were actually taken last year at my previous home on the beach at Paradise Cove (as in, the mobile home park). It if was good enough for Rockford, it's good enough for me.
"The Shapiro Files" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, however.
Anyway, the San Juans are all over my blog now and making me extremely happy.

And: your poetry is terrific! If we can't force Doug to use his hard-earned pixels to post more of it, well then, you should start a blog. The world needs more blogs, after all, doesn't it?
(don't answer that).

1:21 PM  
Blogger butch said...

Beethoven has been the center of several films, and IMMORTAL BELOVED is just one of them. By the way there have been (2) silent films done about Ludwig. I will try and make up a list for you of Beethoven themed films:

. Beethoven (1992)
aka "Beethoven: Story of a Dog" - Australia (cable TV title)

"Beethoven" (1994)
3. "Beethoven" (2005) (mini)
aka "The Genius of Beethoven" - UK (working title)
4. Neveu de Beethoven, Le (1985)
aka "Beethoven - Die ganze Wahrheit" - Germany (video title)
aka "Beethoven" - Germany

Beethoven (2005) (V)
6. Beethoven (1909)
7. Märtyrer seines Herzens, Der (1918)
aka "Beethoven" - Austria

Names (Exact Matches) (Displaying 1 Result) 1. Beethoven (Actor, Aqua (2005))

Characters (Exact Matches) (Displaying 1 Result)
Ludwig van Beethoven (Immortal Beloved (1994), Leo Faulkner)
aka "Ludwig Van Beethoven"
aka "Young Ludwig van Beethoven"
aka "Beethoven"

Keywords (Exact Matches) (Displaying 1 Result) 1. beethoven (31 titles - A Clockwork Orange (1971), ...)

Titles (Partial Matches) (Displaying 43 Results)
Copying Beethoven (2006)

Beethoven Lives Upstairs (1992) (TV)

Beethoven's 5th (2003) (V)
aka "Big Paw: Beethoven 5" - USA (working title)

Bernstein on Beethoven: A Celebration in Vienna (1970) (TV)
5. "Bernstein/Beethoven" (1982) (mini)
aka "Wege zu Beethoven" - Germany

Un grand amour de Beethoven (1936)
aka "The Life and Loves of Beethoven" - USA

Anne-Sophie Mutter: A Life with Beethoven (1999) (V)

Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 (1983) (TV)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (1977) (TV)
10. Baby Beethoven: Symphony of Fun (2002) (V)
11. Beethoven kai bouzouki (1965)

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis (1996) (V)
13. Beethoven - Tage aus einem Leben (1976)
aka "Beethoven-Days in a Life" - (English title)
14. Beloved Beethoven (1999) (V)
15. Bernstein in Vienna: Beethoven - The Ninth Symphony in D Minor (1970) (TV)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1954)
17. Ludwig van Beethoven - Sinfonie Nr. 6 in F-dur, Pastorale (1970) (TV)
aka "Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 - Pastoral" - (English title)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 'Eroica' (1984) (TV)
19. Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto (1983) (TV)
20. Sexo & Beethoven - O Reencontro (1997)
21. The Soloist (2008)
aka "Imagining Beethoven" - USA (working title)
22. Amo Beethoven (2007)
23. Arrau & Muti & Beethoven (1990) (TV)
24. Beethoven Opus 59, No. 3: Allegro Molto (2004)
25. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 Op. 125 (1991) (TV)
26. Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61 (1985) (TV)
27. Efrem Zimbalist & Harold Bauer Playing Theme and Variations from 'The Kreutzer Sonata' by Beethoven (1926)
28. Famous Composers: Ludwig van Beethoven (1996) (V)
29. Gloire et la douleur de Ludwig van Beethoven, La (1912)
30. The Immortal Beethoven (1987) (TV)
31. Klavierkonzert Nr. 4 in G-Dur von Ludwig van Beethoven (1967)
aka "Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4" - (English title)
32. Kontsert Bethovena (1937)
aka "Beethoven Concerto" - USA
33. Leben des Beethoven, Das (1927)
34. Ludwig van Beethoven (1970)
35. Muybridge/Beethoven (1997)
36. Robert Shaw Conducts: Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 (1987) (TV)
37. "Roll Over Beethoven" (1985)
38. Sexo & Beethoven (1980)
39. Sparks Lil' Beethoven: Live in Stockholm (2005) (V)
40. Symphonie Nr. 3 Es-Dur opus 55 (Eroica) von Ludwig van Beethoven (1967) (TV)
41. Toscanini: The Television Concerts, Vol. 2 - Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (1948) (TV)
42. Toscanini: The Television Concerts, Vol. 9 - Beethoven: Symphony No. 5/Respighi: The Pines of Rome (1952) (TV)
43. Warten auf Beethoven (1984) (TV)

Your comment about "This last one", is that a separate film, a different film, or a scene in IMMORTAL BELOVED (1994) Directed by Bernard Rose, starring Gary Oldman as Beethoven, with Jeroen Krabbe, Isabella Rossellini, and Johanna ter Steege.

Following Beethoven's death, his closest friend (Jeroen Krabbé) goes in search of the composer's sole heir, an unnamed woman described as his 'immortal beloved' in a letter which betrays their secret love affair.

Comparisons with AMADEUS (1984) are inevitable, but Bernard Rose's sumptuous biopic is in a veritable league of its own. The director's episodic screenplay relays events in flashback, as Beethoven - played with multilayered conviction by Gary Oldman - is inspired to new heights of artistic endeavor by the three women who dominate his life (Isabella Rosselini, Valeria Golino and Johanna ter Steege), and rendered increasingly bitter by encroaching deafness. Just as tellingly, Rose's handsome film details Beethoven's stormy relationship with a favored nephew (Marco Hofschneider), who was driven to extreme rebellion by the composer's overreaching ambitions. The music is arranged with exquisite grace by Georg Solti, conducting the London Symphony Orchestra: Standout episodes include the moment when Beethoven first plays the 'Moonlight Sonata', and the breathtaking 'Ode to Joy' sequence, framed against an unhappy memory from Beethoven's youth, which culminates in a moment of supreme cinematic glory, one of the most beautiful images this reviewer has ever seen. Vivid production design by Jirí Hlupý, expansive scope photography by Peter Suschitzky; filmed on location in Prague.

Perhaps you should see the more recent biopic:
COPYING BEETHOVEN (2006) Directed by Agnieszka Holland, with Ed Harris bewigged as Beethoven, with Diane Kruger, Ralph Riach, and Viktoria Dihen.

The Silence Between the Notes, 15 November 2006

Author: David Ferguson ( from Dallas, Texas

Greetings again from the darkness. Films on icons and historical figures are always risky. Either the greatness (or evil) is exaggerated or the dramatization leaves us feeling empty. Director Agnieszka Holland ("Europa, Europa") attempts to capture the ego and genius of "the monster" Ludwig Von Beethoven in a dramatized version of his last year.

The beautiful Diane Kruger (wonderful in "Joyeux Noel", and also in "National Treasure") plays Anna Holtz, the copier/transcriber for Beethoven's famous 9th symphony as well as his final quartets. It does have similarities to Beauty and the Beast, but the film falls short in capturing his genius. All we get for an explanation is Beethoven's shouts of "God speaks to everyone, but he screams in my ear".

Ed Harris, continuing his knack for playing the crazed artist ("Pollack" "Winter Passing") does an admirable job in heavy make-up and wig attempting to show us the constant torture of the musical genius, who is so clueless on how to deal with the little people.

Harris and Kruger do fine work in their many scenes together, but the film never truly captures the greatness or genius of the artist. The closest it comes is the wonderful version of the 9th as we see Beethoven and Anna working closely (very sensually) to pull off the first public performance. Instead Ms. Holland keep it in the form of a small film, which is not altogether a bad thing.

Anachronisms: In one scene, Beethoven refers to his "Moonlight Sonata" (Sonata 14, Opus 27, No. 2). However, the piece did not come to be known as "Moonlight" until 1832, several years after Beethoven's death, when it was given the nickname by poet Ludwig Rellstab. The true title of the piece, as Beethoven wrote it, is "Quasi una Fantasia".

Factual errors: The movie is set in 1824 during the composition of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Throughout the movie Beethoven is shown to be hard of hearing but quite capable of understanding people who speak loudly. In reality, Beethoven had totally lost his hearing seven years earlier (1817). The 9th Symphony was composed while he was completely deaf.

Continuity: After Anna Holtz catches Karl van Beethoven stealing and Karl runs out the door, Anna quickly runs to her desk takes off her jacket. In the next shot it is back on and she takes it off again.

Factual errors: The film depicts Beethoven conducting the premier of his Ninth Symphony with Anna's help and at the end her turning him around at the podium to see the thunderous applause. In reality, Michael Umlauf conducted and although Beethoven was on stage keeping tempo, the orchestra had been told to ignore him. At the end of the performance it was one of the soloists, Caroline Unger, who turned him around to see the enthusiastic applause of the audience.

Anachronisms: During the performance of the 9th, the trumpet player is shown playing a European style rotary valve trumpet with clock-spring valves (Riedl?) that were first developed in 1835. The design of the trumpet is also of later vintage, as most trumpets of this era lacked valves, the keyed bugle, Haydn's keyed trumpet and instruments with Stolzel valves being the new technology. Finally, the mouthpiece has a very modern profile, perhaps of the 20th Century.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: When Beethoven is berating Schlemmer, he yells, "B-flat! B-flat! B-flat!" and hits a chord 3 times. The chord he hits on the piano sounds like a modern A-flat major chord, even though Beethoven is clearly hitting a chord with a top note of F. The reason for the discrepancy is probably because the pitch for tuning instruments has changed over time, and a frequency that would today be called an "A-flat" would have in Beethoven's time been something between an A and B-flat.

So Doug, I am still trying to fully fathom the point,or one of them, for your rant; this inspiration for a rant that came to you in the middle of the night.
Are you suggesting that a filmmaker creates a biopic about Beethoven and does not use any of his music? That they should hire Thomas Newman, Howard Shore, or John Williams to write a completely new score that has to do with the action of the film and not even use Beethoven notes as a motif? Or are you saying that when the filmmakers use Beethoven, they are just being cheap cuz they do not have to pay another composer?
Sorry about my confusion.

I certainly do agree with Alex that,"Music is sex." Done right then it only follows that good sex is music. Then if all of language, or philosophy, or diatribes, or holy text in the final analysis breaks down into mathmatics, then how much math is there in music? Hell, I don't even follow that one. Since I am somewhat less than efficient with calculus, and could be considered a person with math as a learning disability, then maybe that is whay I never could read music, or play music. I could barely match pitches as an actor in a musical, and I can't carry a tune in a bucket. I'm a alone in the car kind of singer; those are brilliant performances for the audience of one.

Thank you lovely Alex for the kind words about my poetry. Actually Doug has been kind enough to print like over a dozen of my poems within the comments section of his super blog. You are not the first person to suggest that I start my own blog site, but I just can't seem to get off the dime on that one. I love just sitting in the shadows and being an active "commenter" on other people's blogs. I do have posting privileges on the Tacoma Film Club blog that Doug links to under "Butch". Actually I am not very good with my computer. I do not even have the consistent skills to be able to scan photos, or set up other neat artistic flourishes. When I retire in 2010, I will have to upgrade my skills, and see where some of this leads me. We are all looking forward to reading Doug's review of your CD. I enjoy reading your blog too. Maybe I will leave some comments on it one day.


7:25 AM  
Blogger butch said...

Gosh Alex, I finally did it. I used Doug's link to NOTES FROM THE KELP, and reread the first couple of your postings, and actually left some comments. How brave of me, and how gracious of you to include we regular folks in your life. I did mention that I noticed that your blog site came into existance almost at the same time as Doug's did. How great is that? Great minds, similar perceptions, synchronicity, and all that!

Doug, have you ever left comments on her site? You probably have, what with the wonderful hours you have to do it in. Uh-oh, envy just reared its ugly head once again. We have to watch that little bugger. Man, I just had a rush. What if Palmer's compositions become a CD, and it sits on a rack with ten feet of some the Alex Shapiro CD's? What a beautiful image that makes, ennit?

I just received copies of Alex Shapiro's RESERVATION BLUES, and FLIGHT, along with Cormac McCarthy's 1985 book, BLOOD MEREDIAN, which is becoming a film directed by Ridley Scott; who wowed us this month with AMERICAN GANGSTER.


8:11 AM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

Mr. Buttkus, you must remember that I am trying to be funny here.
So anything you don't understand is just an amusement.
The post was not about movies or even Beethoven it's about sensual fatigue.
Last night (Beethoven the music) was the most beautiful thing in the world.
This morning (Beethoven the man)is just another human being, bad breath, farts, grumpiness and all.
A movie about Beethoven the man apart from his music could be very interesting.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

Oh yeah, sex.
It's the "next morning" for my sex life, I'm afraid.
Or relieved.
Or both.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

I just realized that "Szell/Chicago vinyl version" could be sung to "The Big Tune"

Cleveland doesn't fit.

Don't try this in public.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Alex Shapiro said...

Butch informs:
"I just received copies of Alex Shapiro's RESERVATION BLUES, and FLIGHT..."

He must know more than I thought about these death-defying 9-seat puddle-jumpers I take from Friday Harbor to America... uh, I mean, The Mainland.

I believe it was my retrograde-inverted anagrammatically dyslexic twin, Sherman Alexie, who was responsible for these tomes. But hey, I'm a cheap artist and am happy to snag credit for anything.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

I remember San Juan Airlines from the demo rides we took from Friday harbor in the days when we cruised on my father's 33 ft Blanchard cruiser.
I especially remember becoming the talk of the town by anchoring too close to shore and spending low tide on our side.

11:02 PM  
Blogger butch said...

My apologies Alex. I just had you on my mind, consuming my cortex, and there is a kind of anagram there between Alex & Alexie, at least for we of the feeble mind and flying keyboards.

I wondered how you commuted to the big town, to the metropolis of Seattle. Seaplane airlines, of course. The Ferry system is snail slow, with huge lines, and then there is that long long drive south on the congestion of I-5 from Anacortes. Small planes have always made me airsick, and it takes me hours to unclench my white knuckles.

So, since we have to assume that our favorite Spokane Indian Pulitzer Prize winning neighbor in Seattle, Sherman Alexie, also reads this blog, since some of this clerical staff daily Google his name to check out the buzz, and I have been prattling about him for months --then my most sincer apologies to you, sir, for mixing you up in my mind with the beautous Alex Shapiro.

Doug, was that incident with your Dad's 33 foot cabin cruiser something that happened in the 1950's, when you were but an impressionable boy?

RESERVATION BLUES is turning out to be a wonderful fantasy novel, that has Blues legend Robert Johnson in it. It is like the further adventures of several of the characters introduced by Alexie in LONE RANGER AND TONTO FISTFIGHT IN HEAVEN. But Doug, you know all that having already read it.


11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES!!, Lane!
The "girl conducting Beethoven" is probably the most rediculous thing I've seen in a motion picture in some time!! I saw this film over here in Deutschland and loathed its Hollywoodish misinformation.
-- Indignant Anonomann

2:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your excellent musicological epistle in this blog!!
-- Anonomann

2:20 AM  

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