Live From Lincoln Center

S44 E5 | CLIP

Beethoven's Humor

Humor is not the first thing you think of when you hear the name of Ludwig van Beethoven intoned. And yet, as Paul Neubauer, Tara Helen O'Connor and Aaron Boyd, the three performers of his Serenade in D major for Flute, Violin, and Viola, attest, he was not averse to indulging an impish spirit in this unusual piece, performed at the Church of the Archangels in Milies, Greece.

AIRED: September 06, 2019 | 0:01:46
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TRANSCRIPT

The Beethoven Serenade that we'’re playing has

very quirky aspects to it.

Even the opening movement.

♪ Dan da da dum bum ba ba da dum bup ♪

Tara Helen O'’Connor: There'’s an entrance.

And he'’ll repeat it.

I'’ll start, and then the other instruments will answer

in perfect form, and a phrase is born.

O'’Connor: And then another phrase is born.

And the composer stacks these phrases to make

this perfect piece of symmetry.

There are many unusual elements to the Serenade,

which is pretty much fun music.

It'’s supposed to be in a serenade.

But you have that movement

with the interesting rhythmic pattern.

It'’s not your usual Beethoven motive that you think of.

It'’s him having a good time, saying,

"I'’m putting a combination of three instruments that you

don'’t usually hear, and I'’m going to do something unique."

Aaron Boyd: It'’s not profound, and that'’s on purpose.

It'’s full of fun and full of playfulness

and imitation of horns and trumpets and marches

and variations which Beethoven loved to write.

O'’Connor: It'’s a perfect little nugget of music.

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