“Revolution and Romance: Musical Masters of the 19th Century”

Interesting enough programme on BBC4 last night by Suzy Klein about the rise of the “superstar” composer during the 19th century (rise of middle class, new theatres, composer no longer reliant on aristocratic patronage, cult of Romanticism, etc.). It started with Beethoven, and his desire to express his early admiration for Napoleon through music and the symphony. Klein is an engaging presenter with a wonderfully expressive face, but for a programme about music this was just too visual. At some point I want to be sat down and have something played and explained to me properly. I do not need another tree with an abstract noun pinned to it.

Anyway, the programme came back to me this morning as I was listening to Pet Sounds. While I laboriously trudged along the road, I imagined Brian Wilson as Beethoven attempting to perfect a musical form to express his emotions and his take on the changed times he was living through. (As an aside, the bicycle bell in “You still believe in me” makes me check behind for a cyclist.)

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