Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827) was born 250 years ago this year. The canceling of nearly every concert due to the coronavirus adjusted priorities to say the least. I believe the plan was to celebrate his birth in 2020 with many concerts centered around Bonn, Germany, where he was born. Then, in 2027, observe the 200th anniversary of Beethoven's death with many concerts, centered around Vienna where he died.
I would be lying if I said this would have been celebrated equally worldwide. That is not to say it would not have been recognized around the world, rather, no one was going to recognize it more than Germany and Austria.
I am not a Beethoven expert by any stretch of the imagination. Something weird happens when you study music in college: very little time is spent studying Beethoven and Mozart. I think professors assume new students are already thoroughly familiar with their music so they do not focus much time on it. Until recently (2 years or so), I knew Beethoven was great because I was told Beethoven was great. When I realized this was probably not a good thing, I decided to find out why I was being told what I was hearing...
The 2 piano sonatas are part of a group of 3 (the third being the Les Adieux
Sonata) which are uniquely good. They are not related to each other except for the period in which they were written. The last piece is the 9th Symphony. While this is no substitute for Beethoven 2020, it is something people might appreciate.
It is rare that I really appreciate a piece of music after listening to it once. The Waldstein
Sonata is one of those rare pieces. It is a solo piano sonata (1 of 3 significant piano sonatas) and marks the period of time when his music started getting good.
Sonota is was written shortly after the Waldstein
Sonata and is not a happy piece of music. The Appassionata
Sonata was written while he was coming to terms with the fact he was losing, and would continue to lose his hearing, The register of the piano design at the time reached down to a low F. Piano's reach lower today but I'm not sure by how much. (You know how metal players make fun of other metal players by saying they only play the lowest open string and first fret, or djent? I think there might be a little bit of truth in the idea, but I also think hitting the lowest notes you can on an instrument is therapeutic when you're angry. Just a thought.)
Lastly, Symphony No.9 (the one with Ode to Joy in it.) Here is my brief analysis:
Mvt. 1 - A good opener, on the long side.
Mvt. 2 - Better than the opener which is a new idea at the time.
Mvt. 3 - Snoozefest. I think this is on purpose for a few reasons though.
Mvt. 4 - A tad too long, ends well, Ode to Joy is actually really impressive.