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#1521208 - 09/23/10 03:49 PM Saddest chord ever struck?
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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A story from Giraffes, Black Dragons, and Other Pianos by Edwin Mmm Good. This is an interesting book, but at least one third of it is so technical that probably only a tech could understand it(I just skip those parts).

Ludwig Rellstab, later a famous critic, visited Beethoven in 1825 and reported that the composer proudly showed off his Broadwood:

"It is a handsome gift", he continued, stretching his hands towards the keys without ceasing to hold my eyes. He gently stuck a chord. Never again will one penetrate my soul with such a wealth of woe, with so heart-rending an accent! He had played a C major chord in the fight hand and played a B to it in the bass, his eyes never leaving mine. And in order that he might make the soft tone of the instrument sound at its best- he repeated the chord several times and-the greatest musician on earth did not heat its dissonance!


Edited by pianoloverus (09/24/10 09:07 AM)

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#1521259 - 09/23/10 05:02 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Rellstab, is the twit that gave the "Moonlight" it's nickname.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1521293 - 09/23/10 05:33 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: stores]
TheHappyMoron Offline
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Registered: 08/06/10
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Originally Posted By: stores
Rellstab, is the twit that gave the "Moonlight" it's nickname.


lol, what's wrong with the nick name Moonlight sonata?
_________________________
All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#1521299 - 09/23/10 05:38 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: TheHappyMoron]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: TheCannibalHaddock
Originally Posted By: stores
Rellstab, is the twit that gave the "Moonlight" it's nickname.


lol, what's wrong with the nick name Moonlight sonata?


There's little, if anything at all, to do with moonlight in the work. I truly wonder how many would "hear" moonlight on Lake Lucerne (choose your own lake), were the nickname not attached.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1521300 - 09/23/10 05:41 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
TheHappyMoron Offline
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Do you feel the same for the Chopin etudes?
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All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#1521394 - 09/23/10 08:04 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
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For the most part, yes. The only nick I use with any consistency there is the "black key".
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1521401 - 09/23/10 08:24 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
gsmonks Offline
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Beethoven may have been trying to be funny . . .

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#1521402 - 09/23/10 08:30 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: gsmonks]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
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Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Beethoven may have been trying to be funny . . .


Beethoven, never knew of the title.


Edited by stores (09/23/10 08:30 PM)
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1521414 - 09/23/10 08:54 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
currawong Offline
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I'm with stores on the nicknames for the etudes - I'd never heard most of them until I started frequenting PW, and now I keep wasting time thinking "winter wind? which one is that?"
And as for the stupid names for the preludes! Suffocation is too good for whomever thought that one up!
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#1521438 - 09/23/10 09:45 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
beet31425 Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/09
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Yeah, this is kind of personal and it's easy to be inconsistent. I happen to respond to "Black Key", "Revolutionary", "Aoliean Harp", "Butterfly" and "Winter Wind", but I scorn at "Ocean", and, like currawong, all the prelude nicknames. All of them. (Except "Raindrop", I guess.) It probably has everything to do with what you first heard when you first got to know them....


-Jason


Edited by beet31425 (09/23/10 10:57 PM)
Edit Reason: forgot about "Raindrop"

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#1521460 - 09/23/10 10:35 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Nicknames for the etudes don't bother me, but "Moonlight" sort of does.

Sad chords: I can't think of a specific one, but the e minor prelude by Chopin seems to get progressively sadder/deeper.

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#1521463 - 09/23/10 10:42 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: stores]
Ferdinand Offline
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Registered: 04/23/07
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Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Beethoven may have been trying to be funny . . .


Beethoven, never knew of the title.

Gsmonks, did you mean -- Beethoven was playing a joke on Rellstab with the chord?

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#1521478 - 09/23/10 11:03 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: beet31425]
Ridicolosamente Offline
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Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Beethoven may have been trying to be funny . . .
In 1825? Maybe not.

-Daniel
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#1521503 - 09/23/10 11:56 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Nicknames bother me too... Particularly when people don't know they were not the composer's wish, like in Chopin's case or the Moonlight Sonata, and give them too much importance.
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#1521504 - 09/23/10 11:57 PM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
ChopinAddict Offline
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About the sad chords...
Maybe the chords in the left hand in Chopin's Prelude Op.28 No.4?
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Music is my best friend.


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#1521527 - 09/24/10 12:34 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: currawong]
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted By: currawong
I'm with stores on the nicknames for the etudes - I'd never heard most of them until I started frequenting PW, and now I keep wasting time thinking "winter wind? which one is that?"
And as for the stupid names for the preludes! Suffocation is too good for whomever thought that one up!


I absolutely agree. Funny, is it, that I so often agree with currawong? I wonder why ... smile
_________________________
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#1521548 - 09/24/10 01:31 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: stores]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2229
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: TheCannibalHaddock
Originally Posted By: stores
Rellstab, is the twit that gave the "Moonlight" it's nickname.


lol, what's wrong with the nick name Moonlight sonata?


There's little, if anything at all, to do with moonlight in the work. I truly wonder how many would "hear" moonlight on Lake Lucerne (choose your own lake), were the nickname not attached.


Keep in mind that Rellstab had never heard anything by Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, etc, because he couldn't have.. even for someone on the vanguard of music at the turn of the 19th century, such an evocative, even Romantic, piece of music would have been that much more powerful than it is taken out of context today.

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#1521575 - 09/24/10 03:00 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: Ferdinand]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 551
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Beethoven may have been trying to be funny . . .


Beethoven, never knew of the title.

Gsmonks, did you mean -- Beethoven was playing a joke on Rellstab with the chord?


From Rellstab's account, Ludwig was watching him very carefully, studying his reaction. Rellstab was assuming a great deal and had absolutely no idea what was on Ludwig's mind. We have no idea what his opinion of Rellstab was. For all we know, he may have thought him a patronising oaf, and was testing him for honesty.

Besides, do you really think a pianist of Ludwig's caliber, deaf for not, would forget where he left C, three times running?


Edited by gsmonks (09/24/10 03:03 AM)

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#1521593 - 09/24/10 04:25 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: jeffreyjones]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: TheCannibalHaddock
Originally Posted By: stores
Rellstab, is the twit that gave the "Moonlight" it's nickname.


lol, what's wrong with the nick name Moonlight sonata?


There's little, if anything at all, to do with moonlight in the work. I truly wonder how many would "hear" moonlight on Lake Lucerne (choose your own lake), were the nickname not attached.


Keep in mind that Rellstab had never heard anything by Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, etc, because he couldn't have.. even for someone on the vanguard of music at the turn of the 19th century, such an evocative, even Romantic, piece of music would have been that much more powerful than it is taken out of context today.


Rellstab, certainly, heard Chopin, Schumann, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Liszt and many others (no Debussy as you say though because the dates make it an impossibility).
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1521600 - 09/24/10 04:42 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
btb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
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There is no record in my reference book (The Beethoven Compendium by Barry Cooper ... 351 pages) of Rellstab (whoever he might be) having met the stone deaf Beethoven in 1825 (two years before LB’s death) ... and reportedly having heard the jangling Broadwood C major chord with the strident lower B.

Where does this story originate ... and the supposed (twit) Moonlight appellation?

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#1521603 - 09/24/10 04:46 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
Victor25 Offline
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Registered: 05/30/09
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Thats indeed a very moving story. Beethoven has found its way to my heart a couple of years ago, by using those type of chords. For me he has a certain way of writing that is just unexplainable. For instance the way in op10/3 second movement, he goes from the buildup in measure's 34-35 to those amazing high notes in measure 36. I know this is not a chord, but it gives that same dissonance feel! The opening of the pathetique would be another great example

ps I 100% agree that the nicknames are stupid. They give the listener an idea in their head without having heard a single note.
_________________________
Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)

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#1521632 - 09/24/10 06:13 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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When I wrote the OP I thought I was sharing a profoundly moving story and was interested in your thoughts about that story.

Disappointing that almost no one has really commented on it so far(ecxept to say that perhaps Beethoven was kidding...he wasn't or that Rellstab was a "twit". etc.)Nor was the thread supposed to be a compendium of other posters' choices for the saddest chords.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/24/10 08:58 AM)

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#1521644 - 09/24/10 06:38 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
TheHappyMoron Offline
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Registered: 08/06/10
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Loc: UK
Personally i do not care too much for nick names of pieces either, but i'm sure i read somewhere that they were given to produce more popularity for the pieces at the time (in the case of Chopin at least anyway). And i think it was Schumann that coined the Aolian Harp one, and we all know about his vivid imagination!

As for Pianoloverus; i apologise if i in anyway distracted anyone from your post, and it was a very quaint story. There are many anecdotes of Beethoven's great playing. I read one once where a pianist try to show him up in a piano competition (where they would improvise to show who's better) by improvising on one of Beethoven's themes, which disgruntled the composer so much that he played so amazingly, and utterly out-doing his competitor, that the other pianist left Vienna and never returned out of shame! or something of that nature anyway, haha.
_________________________
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#1521654 - 09/24/10 07:08 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
Victor25 Offline
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Registered: 05/30/09
Posts: 1676
Loc: The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
When I wrote the OP I thought I was sharing a profoundly moving story and was interested in your thoughts about that story.

Disappointing that not one person has really commented on it so far(ecxept to say that perhaps Beethoven was kidding...he wasn't or that Rellstab was a "twit". etc.)Nor was the thread supposed to be a compendium of other posters' choices for the saddest chords.


I'm quite sure my reply was OnT
_________________________
Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)

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#1521691 - 09/24/10 08:40 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
SlatterFan Offline
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Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 783
Loc: Brighton, UK
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
When I wrote the OP I thought I was sharing a profoundly moving story and was interested in your thoughts about that story.

Disappointing that not one person has really commented on it so far(ecxept to say that perhaps Beethoven was kidding...he wasn't or that Rellstab was a "twit". etc.)Nor was the thread supposed to be a compendium of other posters' choices for the saddest chords.

My first impression was to notice that you typed the author's name as ending "Mmm Good", with a very strange book title. I assumed you were joking and I didn't even look up the book to see if it existed.

The story does strike me as odd. I've read that Beethoven received his Broadwood piano in early 1818, so it would hardly have been "new" to him in 1825 (the year he did receive a new piano, a Graf). Right away that makes me wonder if Rellstab's anecdote was remembered and reported accurately along its way to us. I also have read that Beethoven was almost completely deaf in his later years. I suppose it is strangely moving that an almost-deaf man could affect a listener on a deep emotional level through the haunting sound quality produced by playing a few chords on his piano. But, as I politely cautioned just above, people sometimes exaggerate and/or embellish their recollections of encounters with famous people, so who knows.
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#1521700 - 09/24/10 09:00 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
Morodiene Offline
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This is also the fist I've heard of this story, and find it dubious.
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#1521701 - 09/24/10 09:01 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: pianoloverus]
Victor25 Offline
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Registered: 05/30/09
Posts: 1676
Loc: The Netherlands
_________________________
Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)

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#1521702 - 09/24/10 09:06 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: SlatterFan]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: SlatterFan
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
When I wrote the OP I thought I was sharing a profoundly moving story and was interested in your thoughts about that story.

Disappointing that not one person has really commented on it so far(ecxept to say that perhaps Beethoven was kidding...he wasn't or that Rellstab was a "twit". etc.)Nor was the thread supposed to be a compendium of other posters' choices for the saddest chords.

My first impression was to notice that you typed the author's name as ending "Mmm Good", with a very strange book title. I assumed you were joking and I didn't even look up the book to see if it existed.
The book is real. The author's actual name is Edwin M. Good, so I couldn't resist making a joke.

Originally Posted By: SlatterFan
The story does strike me as odd. I've read that Beethoven received his Broadwood piano in early 1818, so it would hardly have been "new" to him in 1825 (the year he did receive a new piano, a Graf). Right away that makes me wonder if Rellstab's anecdote was remembered and reported accurately along its way to us. I also have read that Beethoven was almost completely deaf in his later years. I suppose it is strangely moving that an almost-deaf man could affect a listener on a deep emotional level through the haunting sound quality produced by playing a few chords on his piano. But, as I politely cautioned just above, people sometimes exaggerate and/or embellish their recollections of encounters with famous people, so who knows.
I shouldn't have included the word "new" in my story as you are correct about 1818 as the date of the gift of the piano from Braodwood. I corrected my OP. The point of the story was not the haunting quality of the chords but that Beethoven, being completely deaf at the time, couldn't hear that he created a terrible dissonance by playing the wrong note in the bass.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/24/10 09:37 AM)

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#1521714 - 09/24/10 09:22 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: gsmonks]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: gsmonks
From Rellstab's account, Ludwig was watching him very carefully, studying his reaction. Rellstab was assuming a great deal and had absolutely no idea what was on Ludwig's mind. We have no idea what his opinion of Rellstab was. For all we know, he may have thought him a patronising oaf, and was testing him for honesty.

Besides, do you really think a pianist of Ludwig's caliber, deaf for not, would forget where he left C, three times running?
The story I quoted mentioned that Beethoven kept his eyes fixed on Rellstab, i.e. didn't look at the keys, so it is not unreasonable that he hit the wrong note in the bass.

I suppose one could say that any time a person says something to you, one cannot be sure of what's on their mind, but that seems like a rather cynical response to a story I think most would find tragic.

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#1521719 - 09/24/10 09:33 AM Re: Saddest chord ever struck? [Re: btb]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: btb
There is no record in my reference book (The Beethoven Compendium by Barry Cooper ... 351 pages) of Rellstab (whoever he might be) having met the stone deaf Beethoven in 1825 (two years before LB’s death) ... and reportedly having heard the jangling Broadwood C major chord with the strident lower B.
The story has a footnote and reference in Good's book to a book by Von Schonfeld. Although it's impossible to prove the story is true, I don't think a 351 page book, or any book, can contain every story about Beethvoen's life.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/24/10 09:39 AM)

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