“The Daily Beethoven” was a 2010/2011 online project where I challenged myself to write a post/short article about Ludwig van Beethoven every single day for one full year. Besides simply being fun, this was a daily discipline which I hoped would expand my knowledge and appreciation for Beethoven and classical music in general – and it certainly did! My awe at Beethoven's accomplishments only increased, and my admiration for him simply as a human being grew as well (despite his sometimes volatile personality quirks).
This project ultimately grew to include several different categories of posts:
- Beethoven’s Life and Cultural World
- Highlighted YouTube performances
- Books about Beethoven
- Beethoven Concerts
- Beethoven Documentaries
- Music Analysis
- Manuscripts (ie – handwritten scores)
- Art related to Beethoven
- Avant-garde approaches to Beethoven
- Dance and Beethoven
- Guitar and Beethoven
- Midi versions of Beethoven’s music
Each of these sub-categories can be reached by clicking links in the "Categories" or "Handy Reference Pages" sections at right. By the end of the year I had also created what I consider to be fairly unique content, namely, “Guitar Arrangements”, and “Color-coded Video Analyses”:
The Guitar arrangements ("Transcriptions for Rock Music Lovers") came about due to the easy availability of Beethoven MIDI files on the internet. Coming from a rock/jazz background, I thought that re-assigning 19th Century instrumental parts to modern electric rock instruments would make an interesting experiment. I found out that I loved these arrangements, and did hundreds of them, all still available on YouTube or at Archive.org. By “modernizing the band” (but not changing the music itself) I was able to bring out some of the more subtle melodies and rhythms in B’s music. The result is not for everyone - some people love them, and some people hate them. I ultimately expanded this idea to include Bartok, Shostakovich, Haydn, Stravinsky, Debussy…obviously I enjoyed creating and hearing these things.
The Color-coded Video analyses were created so that I could follow the “story” in each of Beethoven’s pieces. Nowadays classical music is most often heard as “background music” (in public spaces, films, etc), but in Beethoven’s time these sonatas and symphonies were kind of like aural “films”. They had character introductions, conflicts and resolutions. However, due to the abstract nature of music (and the popularity of TV/film, etc), it’s not a natural gift for modern audiences to be able to follow these invisible plot lines. For one thing, a moderately developed sense of melody and harmony was necessary to “see” what was happening.
In order to further develop my own sense of melody and harmony, I consulted the “experts” and used their explanations to create visual representations of these “musical adventures” through annotated YouTube videos. By watching these classical music videos, it helped me concentrate on the music and less on the facial expressions and body movements of the stage musicians (it’s not ballet, after all). After some time exploring these color-coded music videos, I was able to develop the ability to hear the story on my own, without the need for someone to "colorize" the on-screen action. In other words, the music became even more wonderful to experience. Like the “rock arrangements” described above, I expanded this side-project to include many other favorite composers.
Regarding the bulk of The Daily Beethoven, all of the text and pictures I’ve posted remain online, although sadly a good number of linked outside pages and videos have gone away. Perhaps in those cases, the text in my original post will inspire the reader to do a more current Google search for the video or page content. Although I no longer continue making daily updates to this site, I’m happy to say it is apparently still visited pretty heavily and provides an enjoyable window into Beethoven’s world for many people. For additional introductory notes to this site, check out my personal observations about Beethoven circa 2010 in "About Me, or Why Beethoven?" and "What's So Special About Beethoven, Anyways?"
On a final (?) note, here's a few left-over videos I never got around to include or write about back in 2011: