Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vom Tode Version for Guitar and voice

Haven't posted in awhile but just recently received this awesome video of Beethoven's "Vom Tode" (Op. 48, no. 3.) arranged and performed by Grant Valdes:

Fantastic job.  Check out Grant's YouTube channel for more good things.

Score available here:

Grant's adapted lyrics:
Time elapses every hour
What is it you have to live for?
Think, oh man, of your death
Defer not what is not yet
Good man

Speak now Lord that I am earth
Thrown as dust and floating downward
Show me that one day I cease
That one day I might be wise

If at your last friends tremble
Overruled by death
Raise your pure heart to the court
As if it were there.

Original text:
Meine Lebenszeit verstreicht,
Stündlich eil ich zu dem Grabe,
Und was ist's, das ich vielleicht,
Das ich noch zu leben habe?
Denk, o Mensch, an deinen Tod!
Säume nicht, denn Eins ist Not!

Lebe, wie du, wenn du stirbst,
Wünschen wirst, gelebt zu haben
Güter, die du hier erwirbst,
Würden, die dir Menschen gaben;
Nichts wird dich im Tod erfreun;
Diese Güter sind nicht dein.

Nur ein Herz, das Gutes liebt,
Nur ein ruhiges Gewissen,
Das vor Gott dir Zeugnis gibt,
Wird dir deinen Tod versüßen;
Dieses Herz, von Gott erneut,
Ist des Todes Freudigkeit.

Wenn in deiner letzten Not
Freunde hülflos um dich beben:
Dann wird über Welt und Tod
Dich dies reine Herz erheben;
Dann erschreckt dich kein Gericht;
Gott ist deine Zuversicht.

Daß du dieses Herz erwirbst,
Fürchte Gott, und bet und wache.
Sorge nicht, wie früh du stirbst;
Deine Zeit ist Gottes Sache.
Lern nicht nur den Tod nicht scheun,
Lern auch seiner dich erfreun.

Überwind ihn durch Vertraun,
Sprich: Ich weiß, an wen ich gläube,
Und ich weiß, ich werd ihn schaun
Einst in diesem meinem Leibe.
Er, der rief: Es ist vollbracht!
Nahm dem Tode seine Macht.

Tritt im Geist zum Grab oft hin,
Siehe dein Gebein versenken;
Sprich: Herr, daß ich Erde bin,
Lehre du mich selbst bedenken;
Lehre du mich's jeden Tag,

Daß ich weiser werden mag!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy 241st Birthday Beethoven!

Dear Maestro Beethoven,

Happy Birthday!

I couldn't let your 241st birthday go without some kind of blog post, right?

I haven't written anything blog-wise about Beethoven since July, the completion of the year-long Daily Beethoven project, but in the meantime I've been pretty deep in Ludwig-mania anyways.  Many of my activities have been recorded in the "Updates" section of my blog profile, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to make it into the "official record".

My projects arranging B.'s music for guitar and/or rock band are largely complete, I've successfully generated "mock-ups" for the symphonies, string quartets, overtures, concertos, lieder, violin and cello sonatas, bagatelles, masses, variations, and a good cross-section of other chamber works including the ever-popular Op.20 septet.  At every turn I was amazed at how B.'s ideas transferred themselves so naturally to the "electric language" of our modern times.

Guitar Arrangements of Beethoven, Bartok, Shostakovich, Debussy & More

The other main project (on the very cusp of being completed) has been the "Color-Coded Analysis" videos which I personally find very useful in following the "story" B. tells in each of his masterpieces.  Ever since Leonard Bernstein described classical form as a kind of "journey" through remote key areas, I've been fascinated about actually charting these crazy odysseys in some kind of audio-visual technique and these videos are still my favorites for that kind of thing.  At this point the symphonies, string quartets, piano sonatas, masses and some select favorite chamber works are out there.  Here are also some of my favorite symphonies (Rene Leibowitz conducted) and piano sonatas (with Annie Fischer).

Color-Coded Analysis of Beethoven's Music

The highlight concert-wise was seeing the Missa Solemnis performed at Lincoln Center with Sir Colin Davis conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.  That was jaw-droppingly awesome.  If you were there and saw someone in the 3rd row following along with the score, then that was me you saw.

Some recent books I've recently acquired include Emily Anderson's 3-volume "Letters of Beethoven" (the most complete collection of B. letters ever published), "The Critical Reception of Beethoven's Compositions by His German Contemporaries Vol 1 & 2" by Senner & Meredith (fascinating reviews of Beethoven's concerts and works as they were being premiered!), "Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine!: A Biography of the Only Woman Beethoven ever Loved" (Klapproth), "Letters to Beethoven and Other Correspondence Vol 1-3" (Albrecht), "Talks About Beethoven's Symphonies, Analytical Essays with Diagrams" (Stock), and "Ludwig Van Beethoven : Autograph Miscellany from circa 1786 to 1799" by Kerman.  This sketchbook facsimile is MASSIVE and holds a ton of miscellaneous musical ideas which B. would jot down for future reference.  Some sketches are just "riffs" or "licks" which he could use when he would improvise or use during one of those piano duels he'd have to engage in.  Other more elaborate sketches include the Symphony in C which was never completed.  There is a huge variety of writings and scribblings and there is also a printed transcription so you can actually read what he wrote!  Really fantastic.

Well anyways Happy Birthday, Ludwig, and judging from the fact that your face was on the cover of Gramaphone magazine only just a couple months ago (October) it seems you are doing quite well despite your "antiquated ways" haha!

Monday, July 18, 2011

7/18 A Year of Ludwig van Beethoven

And so I've come to Day 365 of the Daily Beethoven project. It's been a long journey and I've certainly learned alot.  The original idea behind starting this blog was just to put my favorite Beethoven links in one place, and somehow along the way I started getting into analyzing his compositions, posting pictures of historical artifacts, visiting his place of business (Vienna trip) and even making videos of my own "rock" transcriptions of his works.  I believe there are a couple dozen of you regular readers who have stuck with this blog all this time.  Thanks!  I have certainly met a few cool Beethoven fans out there through this blog.

In the short term, I'll probably just add to the posts already here, since there are now a completes set of 365 articles, one for each day of the year.  The Index of Works is already getting quite unwieldy (28 references to the 5th Symphony!) so to make new posts about Razumovsky No. 1 (again) seems a bit redundant.  However I will try to keep an eye on the videos that I've posted from other peoples' channels (in case they get deleted) and try to keep this site a 1-stop spot for finding live complete performances of all of Beethoven's major works. Eventually I'll probably start adding new posts if some new earth-shattering insights come up.  I'll also continue to add videos to my Youtube Channel, especially once I start doing wave-form analyses again of the remaining piano sonatas and symphonies (Update: symphonies and string quartets are now done).

My main focus at this point as you can probably tell are the transcriptions of Beethoven's music into modern instruments like guitar and drums.  The posts related to that kind of thing will be the first ones to be expanded, and at some point I hope to post some live renditions of these transcriptions in place of the sequenced versions...

"Beethoven broke all the rules, and turned out pieces of breath-taking rightness. Rightness – that’s the word! When you get the feeling that whatever note succeeds the last is the only possible note that can rightly happen at that instant, in that context, then chances are you’re listening to Beethoven. Melodies, fugues, rhythms – leave them to the Tchaikovskys and Hindemiths and Ravels. Our boy has the real goods, the stuff from Heaven, the power to make you feel at the finish: Something is right in the world. There is something that checks throughout, that follows its own law consistently: something we can trust, that will never let us down."
- Leonard Bernstein on Beethoven

The Raven read by James Earl Jones + Moonlight Sonata