Stories » Lockdown gets techno-head into Beethoven / The Guardian

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Lockdown gets techno-head into Beethoven / The Guardian

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Dance music critic Tom Faber uses unexpected hours of free time to get his head round classical music and Beethoven's famous Symphony No 5. He writes;

In my years as a dance music critic I've analysed the finer points of house and techno, but always felt lost when it came to Bach and Mozart. The compositions sound overstuffed to my ear, long symphonies test my patience and, inevitably, the music slips into the background, making me feel like I'm living in a period drama.

The repetitive structures of contemporary composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich make sense to a techno-head, but pure classical has remained frustratingly out of my grasp.

This year is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, and celebrations – all now sadly on hold –were planned around the world. As I I've got plenty of free time during lockdown, I decide to give Ludwig another shot, starting with his Symphony No 5 in C minor, possibly the most famous piece of classical music ever written – but my eyes glaze over after the dramatic da-da-da-DAH intro.

The lessons have made a difference. I can identify instruments and follow melodies, so feel more engaged. But I still get distracted. Beethoven, the Khan Academy teacher said, needs your undivided attention. So I put everything else aside, stand up, and Beethoven's emotional volatility suddenly surges through me. I do it the way I first fell in love with techno - checking nobody's there to see, I dance.          Photograph: Flavia Dent