The First Four Notes:
Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination
November 30, 2012
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store is pleased to welcome Boston Globe music critic MATTHEW GUERRIERI for a discussion of his book The First Four Notes: Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination.
A unique and revelatory book of music history, The First Four Notes examines in great depth what is perhaps the best-known and most-popular symphony ever written and its four-note opening, which has fascinated musicians, historians, and philosophers for the last two hundred years.
Guerrieri reaches back before Beethoven’s time to examine what might have influenced him in writing his Fifth Symphony, and forward into our own time to describe the ways in which the Fifth has, in turn, asserted its influence. He uncovers possible sources for the famous opening notes in the rhythms of ancient Greek poetry and certain French Revolutionary songs and symphonies. Guerrieri confirms that, contrary to popular belief, Beethoven was not deaf when he wrote the Fifth. He traces the Fifth’s influence in China, Russia, and the United States (Emerson and Thoreau were passionate fans) and shows how the masterpiece was used by both the Allies and the Nazis in World War II.
"Matthew Guerrieri is a brilliant, impassioned, and witty observer not only of music but of the entire cultural landscape surrounding the art. A bit like Beethoven himself, Guerrieri finds a cosmos in four notes." —Alex Ross, author of Listen to This and The Rest Is Noise
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