'An orchestra and solo piano tightly but happily aligned amongst the cogs and wheels of a bustling rhythmic machine.'
'To complain about how people don’t listen to music in the same way they used to doesn’t cut it anymore. We have to engage with technology and the art forms of our time … to connect with new audiences.'
John Coltrane’s scheme for A Love Supreme, recorded in one session on December 9, 1964.
Two hundred years ago today Beethoven premiered one of his most unusual works, a quasi-theatrical set of musical episodes commemorating the Duke of Wellington’s triumph at the Battle of Vitoria. Wellington’s Victory was initially conceived as a vehicle for a musical machine called the panharmonicon:
When this novelty instrument – the brainchild of Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, inventor of the metronome – proved insufficient to Beethoven’s vision he reimagined the scope of his work in progress, orchestrating it and adding the ‘symphony’ above. The piece was a hit at its first performance [alongside nothing less than the Seventh Symphony] and subsequent published editions were among the composer’s most remunerative.
As is so often the case popular acclaim was accompanied by critical excoriation, the essence of which has persisted to the present and ensured that Wellington’s Victory remains infrequently heard. Beethoven himself had no illusions about his artistic choices and offered this Wellingtonian riposte to one of his critics:
'What I sh*t is better than anything you could ever think up!'
As if I needed another social network, but hey at least this one’s all about music.