Ludwig Van Beethoven
About five years ago my mom became extremely obsessed with Ludwig Van Beethoven. It seemed to happen out of nowhere. One day she showed up at our house and she spoke of nothing but Beethoven for her entire visit. For a good three years he and his music were pretty much the only thing she would talk about. You’d try to change the subject and she would always find a way to bring it back to Beethoven. Around this same time the Portland Symphony Orchestra was working its way through the nine symphonies and my mom bought us a pair of tickets to see the Third Symphony, titled Eroica. I thought I’d better brush up in preparation. A mere forty-seven seconds into the first movement and everything she had been going on and on about was verified. Damn! She was right again! I, and anyone who has been within earshot of her, have learned so much from my mom’s obsession. Did you know Beethoven invented ragtime? Well, she will tell you it is so (see Sonata no. 32). Did you know that after conducting the premiere of the Ninth Symphony, one of the singers on stage had to physically turn Beethoven around to see the audience giving a rousing standing ovation because he was unable to hear them due to his deafness? I’ve heard that story and many others like it so many times!
I’ve known that we would do a Beethoven record for December 2020 for over a year now but it was hard to choose which. I ended up going with the Third because it is the symphony that orignially turned my mom onto Beethoven (careful, people!). She still says that its first movement is her favorite among all of his symphonies. High praise! Bruno Walter’s rendition is amazing. I’ve heard so many versions of Eroica that play it too fast, too bouncy, too clean. Walter’s is a little slower, full throated, raw and muddy. Just the way Beethoven would have wanted it.
At the time of its composing, Eroica was the longest symphony ever written and completely changed the idea of what a symphony could be. Eroica was originally intended to be an ode to the French Revolution and the great liberator of people : Napoleon. When Napoleon crowned himself emperor of France in 1804, Beethoven, disgusted, erased Napoleon's name from the music. The Bonaparte Symphony became Eroica or “The Heroic”.
Beethoven turns 250 this month. My mom also turns 70 this month. We were going to spend her birthday in Vienna (Beethoven’s adopted city) to enjoy some Beethoven birthday festivities but coronavirus has made us postpone the trip. Until then I will prepare for the trip by going down another Beethoven rabbit hole. I expect to meet you down there by the :47 second mark in the first movement.
- Will Pratt 12/2/20
Jingle Beans Ethiopia
Our annual holiday blend! Each year we go out of our way to make this blend as viciously fruity and seasonally outlandish as we can. This year we wholeheartedly went for it by blending two merry coffees that triumphantly coalesce into the best interpretation of aqueous fruit cake in a cup. This year we achieved a holiday spectacular by combining 3/4 washed Duromina from Agaro, Ethiopia with 1/4 natural Rogicha from Guji, Ethiopia. Simply splendid.