This work by Guillermo Calzadilla, born today in 1971, combines performance and sculpture. A pianist emerges through a hole carved in a grand piano to play the fourth movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s famous Ninth Symphony of 1824 (widely known as “Ode to Joy”) while walking around the gallery space.
The artists chose “Ode to Joy” for more than just its universal recognizability. Over the last century the tune has been appropriated by such politically contradicting movements and institutions as the Nazis, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and, most recently, the European Union.
In his life, Beethoven only wrote five cello sonatas. But, like his larger sets [the 9 symphonies, the 16 string quartets, and the 32 piano sonatas], they span through his career, and each designated “period” has a corresponding cello sonata. The first two, Op.5, were written while Beethoven was still establishing himself as a composer, and back then, that also meant performer. Cello sonatas weren’t a distinct genre back then, and typically they were works for cello with continuo or they were the other way around; piano with cello obbligato. The first two were vehicles for Beethoven’s pianistic technique, with the cello commenting but surely being out-shined. The audiences at the time probably had their jaws dropping. But years later, now going into his middle period, at op. 69 he publishes this sonata. Instead of one instrument out weighing the other, both are balanced entities. And, despite the fact this was also around the time that Beethoven was depressed and suicidal due to his increasing deafness, this work is full of brightness, sunlight, smiles. All of these qualities are handled with a classical-minded grace, and intentionality. And by keeping the cello and piano at equal levels of importance and development, this work, in a way, shaped how the entire genre of the cello sonata should be.
My sister has a little decorative owl that she keeps on her piano named Mr. Beethoven, after the composer. She is a professional piano player and a Music Theory PhD. student and she tells me the name is fitting. (She says he looks intense; I think he looks electrocuted, but he’s cute anyway.)
Unfortunately for Mr. Beethoven, my sister is also a Toothless fan and the owl and the dragon have to share the same space. This resulted in a rather @concernedpony -esque sequence:
That lead to wanting @concernedpony to join the mix, so have some cuteness.