John Palcewski (forioscribe) wrote,
John Palcewski

Pianissimo C Major

In the first quarter of the 19th Century Antonio Diabelli, a Viennese pianist and music publisher, sent a simple waltz he’d written to a number of major composers and invited them to write variations. Ludwig von Beethoven initially dismissed the piece as a "cobbler's patch," but four years later constructed from it one of the most powerful and enigmatic pieces of music ever written. Beethoven dedicated his 33 variations for solo piano to Frau Antonie von Brentano, nee Edle von Birkenstock—his “Immortal Beloved.”

Variation XX is otherworldly. It consists of a subtle, intricate and sometimes inexplicable progression of chords in an andante tempo that is not only a recapitulation of the variations themselves, but also a summation of Beethoven’s troubled yet spiritually triumphant life. The final resolution comes in the 72nd chord, a pianissimo C major.

In her diary Antonie Brentano speaks of "elective affinities." She says there exists between some fortunate people an immediate spiritual and emotional connection. They understand each other in an instant. Their lives contain related points of contact even before they knew each other. People and events evoke in them the same thoughts. Reflections about themselves bring them to similar convictions and conclusions that do not have to be verbalized.

The music, of course, speaks for itself.


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