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Volume 14 • Number 2

Fall 2007

 

Beethoven's Vision of Joy in the Finale of the Ninth Symphony


by David B. Levy


Like the Grosse Fuge itself, I begin with an Overtura. An entry in Beethoven's Conversation Book dating from between Christmas 1825 and New Year's Day contains the following observation from the violinist and friend of the composer, Karl Holz:

A fugue always strikes me to be like an edifice that is symmetrically constructed according to all the rules of architecture; I marvel at it, but it never enchants me.
By this I mean the fugues one commonly encounters.

Normally they are dryly handled; I speak of these; to me they are also insufferable.

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