Rebelling with Beethoven

Posted on: March 29, 2010

Friday (3/26) on the New York Times blog Opinionator, composer Daniel Felsenfeld writes, “Music may be the universal language, but those of us who spend our lives with it are expected to know it in depth, from early on. Many composers, whether traditional or experimental, have been steeped in Western classical music from the cradle. That was not the case with me. My primal time was the middle of the ‘80’s in Orange County, Calif. I was 17 years old.” While listening to popular bands of the day at a friend’s house, Felsenfeld noticed that his friend took out “a neatly hand-labeled tape of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  He put it on, and I listened.  I think it was then I actually heard music for the first time. … This ‘symphony’ by this Beethoven had a drug-like effect on me.  At my insistence we listened again.  And again.  I wished it would just keep going. … My passion for this ‘other’ kind of music felt like the height of rebellion: I was the lone Bolshevik in my army. … Since I was the only one I knew listening to symphonies and concerti, operas and string quartets, I felt I was the weirdest of them all—it served my adolescent need to be misunderstood.”

Posted March 29, 2010