Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Worth the visit

Slate, perhaps my favorite online "magazine" (after, of course, The Nation), has a wonderful piece about the peculiar and witty humor of Johannes Brahms.

An excerpt,

Nottebohm, a Beethoven scholar, was also the victim of one of Brahms' most devious practical jokes. On a scrap of old music paper, Brahms jotted down a current pop tune in an expert imitation of Beethoven's handwriting, then bribed a street vendor to wrap the manuscript around a sausage and sell it to Nottebohm. Brahms was thrilled to see the old pedant unwrap the sausage, step under a streetlight to examine the paper with eyes popping, and with a furtive air slip it into his pocket, finishing the greasy sausage barehanded.

How wonderful. You know, stuff like this really should be read to schoolchildren. If they see composers as real human beings, and not Shaffer's Mozart's opinion on people "so lofty...," then they might actually care about good music. The problem is that education has become geared to the lowest common denominator, so the "children" aren't given the slightest idea about how human and how brilliant the greats were.

When you realize that the great masters of the past were human too, then you realize how towering their accomplishments were and are.

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