So last night and into this new year I listened to Dora Pejačević’s Symphony in F sharp minor, Op. 41 (1918) in prep for what I’m calling my year of #NotBeethoven.* This is in response to Some. Of The. Pushback. To. making 2020 the year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.
Some of that pushback has been on social media which had become more frequent as the New Year approached and two twitter responses inspired me to do the #NotBeethoven year.
Of course, this isn’t something particularly strange or out of the ordinary for me. Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time, or know me IRL, know that I have very little time (or desire) spend hand-wringing about whether or not to listen to Beethoven. On the other hand, I don’t always share all the things I do listen to, and neither do I place those works into the broader context of what it means to spend so much inordinate time to so-called “canonical masters.” As I’m also nearly finished reading Douglas Shadle’s book, “Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise,” I’m also reminded of how much Beethoven and others in the Canon have shaped whole musical cultures for good or ill.
So what I hope to do with this twitter thread (as well as my screencap shares to Facebook) is to raise awareness of the vast diversity of composers out there as well as the vast diversity of genres they are composing for. You know…pretty much what I already do on a daily basis. But also, since everyone seems to get into these 100 Day Challenges, I’m making this a 365 (or in this case, since it’s a leap year, 366) day challenge for myself. To actively listen to new things that I will share in this twitter thread.
*This doesn’t mean I won’t listen to or perform Beethoven this year. In fact I will be involved with some performances of the composer and I’m fine with that. I’m just not going to make a big deal about his work over and above all the works that will not get a chance to be heard. As William Gibbons of @musicillogical stated in the twitter thread above:
“The production and consumption of music is, for the most part, a zero-sum game. Time and resources are finite. Every time an orchestra performs Beethoven, they aren’t performing something else. Every time I listen to Beethoven, I’m not listening to something else.”
Image credit. Tibetan Yang-Yig Music Notation of Yang Chants <<https://www.schoyencollection.com/music-notation/graphic-notation/tibetan-yang-yig-ms-5280-1>>
My #NotBeethoven 2020 Youtube playlist to make it simpler to follow just the audio examples. <<direct link>>