Beethoven – Septet, Opus 20

by richibi

Cherry Blossoms, 1970 - Toshi Yoshida

              Cherry Blossoms” (1970)


                       Toshi Yoshida





though I’ve been focused on Ovid

especially lately, specifically his

Metamorphosesother less

concentrated pursuits have also

taken up my time, Sophocles,

Shakespeare, American Idol, The

Great Canadian Baking Show,

Euclid, Existentialism, the variations

in colour, number, size of the cherry

blossoms growing on the trees along

my street as I ponder each morning

from my window their magical,

miraculous, incarnation, into the

world, their augury of, once again,

wondrously, springtime, March,



but recently I picked up a book, a

biography of Beethoven, in

snapshots, through the lens of

nine works of his in particular,

arranged chronologically


join me as I, one by one, present

them through the requisite number

of commentaries


the first is his forgotten, but apparently

all the rage in his day, Septet, opus 20,

which continued to be admired for its

Classical roots for a long time, a

comfortable, recognizable music,

but with enough modernity to warrant

extended popularity, the irrepressible

pull of Romanticism, the draw of the

encroaching 19th Century


Beethoven would become more and

more radical, irascible, demanding

eventually, and I conscientiously

interject here, more manifestly,

however counterintuitively, sublime


but there were contrary opinions, 

much as elders have always objected

to the music of their children, portents,

always, of ensuing degeneration


you’ll recognize, perhaps, as I did,

in the Septet‘s third movement, the

same air as in Beethoven’s Piano

Sonata no 20, Opus 49, no 2, poets

borrowed from each other then,

still do, have ever, they speak the

same language, they would even,

as here, filch from themselves


the insignificant piece, the Sonata,

according to Beethoven, should’ve

been the disregarded work, the

Septet had the greater fame and

longevity, but history has its way,

a septet needs to put together

seven instrumentalists, of a certain

quality, each time, to survive, to

regenerate itself, a sonata, only

one committed interpreter each



it is also an integral part of the

complete Beethoven sonatas, a

historical account equal, musically,

to the very Ten Commandments,

that foundational



R ! chard