Beethoven’s birthday was yesterday. He would have been 245 years old. Today is the anniversary of his baptism, the day after his birth.
A vagueness of timing, however, did not fit into the architecture of his music. Goethe called architecture frozen music. The illustration atop this post is cute but does not rise to the level of the “Ode to Joy.” A great work of music achieves a crescendo. A great work of architecture achieves a crescendo. A great work of city building piles crescendo on crescendo, as Beethoven did in bringing his Ninth Symphony to a rousing conclusion. Whenever I hear that fourth movement I feel that it will never end.
Ancient Rome was not built in a day, but it was designed to grant its citizens an epiphany around every corner – the view, it is said, would grow ever more majestic as Romans approached the summit of the Eternal City’s civic center, Capitoline Hill. Symphonic is the proper word.
Anyway, this is my riff on architecture as frozen music in honor of the birthday of Beethoven, which I have missed by a day. To celebrate I offer a video of the master’s “Ode to Joy” – a flashmob just outside of Barcelona.
I have also added a video of Daniel Barenboim conducting the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They play the Fourth Movement only. It is half an hour of sheer beauty, perfection. A commenter writes, “How can the orchestra play so well when the conductor is so vague?” … Hey, I resemble that remark! (Or so I like to think.)