This is day 21 in my Dance Inspirations Advent Calendar (II)
If there’s one nationality Beethoven simply couldn’t be, it’s Australian. Nothing and no-one could be further than him from the warm, down-to earth, tell-it-like-it is nature of the Australians. So I was really shocked to find that one of my favourite Australians Gilly Cornish was just mad about Beethoven. (Australians are my favourite people, though Gilly pointed out that I shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from that – since all the ones I liked had left Australia).
Although there are a few bits of his music that I quite like, 95% of it annoys me. Maybe it’s the baggage it comes with: it’s ‘Beethoven’ rather than Beethoven that I don’t like, as Richard Taruskin would put it. Even when I was a teenager in the 1970s, you couldn’t escape the overwhelming, overbearing presence of Beethoven in musicology and music training: popular music was crap because it didn’t have Beethoven’s grammatical and discursive surface, and every composer after him was considered as an aberration or poor relation of this thundering, nitpicking, teutonic pedant. There was only one approach to studying Beethoven’s music, and that was mindless, uncritical adulation. He was God, and you weren’t allowed to ask why he made you suffer.