Stephen Jablonsky jablonsky at optimum.net
Mon Dec 16 07:11:23 PST 2013

On the anniversary of Beethoven's birth I am prompted to ask my esteemed colleagues a question that has perplexed me since getting into this music theory business a long time ago: Why does some music sound important and other music does not? Some pieces seem to be saying something important in a language that eludes me and other pieces seem to be much ado about nothing. This brings me to Beethoven. How do you explain his 4th Symphony coming as it does between the Eroica and the Mighty Fifth? Numbers 3 and 5 have become the mainstays of concert programming worldwide and Number 4 seems to enjoy a quiet oblivion. Why is that? What was it that kept the master from creating a work that could compare with its bookends. What do you say about 8?

As I write this I am reminded of Slonimsky's estimations of composers' worth in Bakers. I love the fine distinctions he makes. By extension, the same may be said for compositions that might range from no adjective to "great." Just for the fun of it, can you put Beethoven's symphonies in order greatness (if that is even possible)?

Dr. Stephen Jablonsky, Ph.D.
Music Department Chair
The City College of New York
Shepard Hall Room 72
New York NY 10031
(212) 650-7663
music at ccny.cuny.edu

America's Greatest Chair 
in the low-priced field

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