WQXR Declares November Beethoven Awareness Month

Friday, October 28, 2011

You may find yourself staring at a intriguing poster in New York City subways and on street corners in November. It's part of a ad campaign to promote November as Beethoven Awareness Month and thus draw attention to classical music and its most famous composer.

Through a broad range of live events, online features, and of course, music, Beethoven Awareness Month will present programming that celebrates the iconic composer who is at once among the most exalted in the canon as well as classical music’s top crossover artist.

Beethoven will pop up everywhere, from a live radio kick-off from Grand Central Station featuring the break-dancer Dister bustin’ moves to music from the Escher String Quartet, to the Schnitzel & Things truck on Mondays, where lunch service will be served with a side of Beethoven, to a “Where’s Beethoven?” photo contest, in which a bust of the composer hides in plain sight at New York landmarks, to a 12-hour marathon of Beethoven’s piano sonatas performed by some of classical music’s brightest pianists, including Joyce Yang, Jeremy Denk and Jonathan Biss, in WQXR’s innovative event venue, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. 

The WQXR airwaves and live stream will feature some of the finest recordings of Beethoven’s works, as well as a live broadcast of Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique from Carnegie Hall. WQXR.org will offer an all-Beethoven stream for the entire month.

“To the connoisseur and the uninitiated alike, Beethoven is undoubtedly a legend,” said Graham Parker, Vice President, WQXR. “Beethoven Awareness Month is a multifaceted festival that will sing his praises all throughout November – live, on-air, and online – so listeners can truly discover Beethoven, whether they’re listening for the first time or uncovering a rare gem they didn’t already know. We’ll offer something for everyone, from the sublime and serious to the contemporary and playful.”

Watch the WQXR Ad for Beethoven Awareness Month (Produced by Eyeball)


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Comments [32]

Karin from Seattle

"Beethoven Awareness Month"? And a vaguely odd poster. Although it aims to make WQXR more popular, of course much of this is also tongue-in-cheek. Perhaps I have lived elsewhere for too long (far from NYC), but it seems like fun to me. And bad puns are just fine! The 2nd videoclip even makes me homesick for New York.

Nov. 26 2011 08:59 PM
Eric Prem

Great idea! Too bad so many people here don't get it...doesn't this remind anyone of those Obey Giant and HOPE campaign posters!?!?!?!

Nov. 07 2011 01:40 PM
Michael Meltzer

I don't know if this is still an active blog, but it doesn't cost me to speak.
There has never, ever been a successful "quick fix" for any vacuum in cultural awareness. Beethoven will be no exception. All the kudos are coming from the already converted and WQXR is preaching to the choir.
For almost every human being, to be truly comfortable with a language, they have to start speaking it in childhood. Music is a non-verbal language, the same is true. The only answer is in the music education of children, applied as universally and painlessly as possible.

Nov. 05 2011 08:20 PM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

Mr. Riccardi-zhu's comment ("Most people today listen to crap and don't even know what music can really be") hints at what I alluded to below, about Anthony Burgess. Writing about his "A Clockwork Orange", he expressed surprise that his view of young Londoners of his projected future(really "street", as opposed to oh-so-hip-going-to-the-right-clubs "Street") never took hold, i.e., that they never saw (as did Alex) the true power of classical music to reach emotional points that no kitschy pop ever could. $300,000 to buy a neo Mad men poster is not going to change that, I fear.

Nov. 04 2011 01:57 PM
Eric C from Brooklyn

You can't please everyone, as these comments attest. But I'm thrilled to see QXR take a chance on new, bold advertising. A brand can take risks without losing its soul. Not taking risks (as has been a tendency WQXR until recently) is more worrisome.

The intended audience will get the allusion and register the oblique humor, which has more to do with Obey Giant and "awareness" than the obvious pun.

The real fun for me was discovering that my favorite radio station was behind this campaign. Now WQXR is like a nerdy friend who is secretly more street than you are.

Nov. 03 2011 11:16 PM
david wen riccardi-zhu

Pretty stupid. That said, it's for a good cause. Most people today listen to crap and don't even know what music can really be. If this maybe inspires a few people, what they will discover may very well change their life.

Nov. 03 2011 10:16 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

I checked out the website that Larry King mentioned in his comment, and I still don't get the meaning of this poster. Or is the whole idea that there really is no meaning to it? If so, then why are we wasting our time with it, and why did WQXR spend (our) money on it? We don't need some silly poster to help us appreciate Beethoven!

Nov. 03 2011 09:32 PM
Eva from Floral Park

Woohoo! There can never be enough Beethoven!
Cool poster :)

Nov. 03 2011 06:46 PM
Jake from Queens!

The poster is awesome; both hip and punny. I dig WQXR and I blast it when I'm cruising for chicks. - Stay Fresh! -

Nov. 03 2011 03:44 PM
Larry King

I mean Shepard Fairy, jeez I must be getting old.

Nov. 01 2011 06:26 PM
Larry King

I see most of the viewers completely miss most of the humor here, except the people who say "I want that poster!"

So for the culturally deprived, http://obeygiant.com/

I don't see any credit to Matthew Sheppard for the poster. I suppose he is not involved with this?

Nov. 01 2011 06:23 PM
Michael Meltzer

Mr. O'Malley, you can't dig any deeper, you've hit bedrock already. The pun on the poster derives from the school of advertisinf known as "cutesy." Once a year, advertising people meet, congratulate each other, laugh at each other's bad jokes that clients have paid handsomely for, and give each other awards. Those ads usually don't sell anything, they divert attention from the product, but have the veneer of being stylish and "cutting edge."

Nov. 01 2011 06:16 PM
Peter O'Malley

the unanswered (or. more likely, unasked) question is: what does obedience have to do with it? the artist who would not doff his hat to aristocrats, and who broke the rules of composition, surely would not expect people to obey him.

What does the pun actually mean?

Nov. 01 2011 01:38 PM
Neil Schnall

Apparently WQXR's conception of Beethoven-Awareness is to trot out the same nicknamed piano sonatas it plays all the time anyway.

Lipstick on a pig....

Nov. 01 2011 12:20 PM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

First question: why not December, the month of Luddy von's birth? I know the answer, I think: by December 16 we will be awash in premature Christmas music and unable to devote time and attention to Beethoven.
Second question: was it really $300,000 for such a lame poster campaign?
Can I designate where my pledge money goes (ha ha)?
Third question: what's "cool" got to do with it? If you have to try to be cool (meaning the original slang word, before it came to be applied to anything at all, as with "awesome"), you are not going to be. Play the music and it will be heard, with or without the forced, over-hearty wittiness of at least one of your current announcers.
BUT: you picked the right guy to focus a whole month on, as Beethoven, as Anthony Burgess realized -- though he was amazed to see that, unlike Alex, his creation, most young people starting in the sixties and seventies failed to grasp the music's power, surpassing as it does anything that rock can offer -- is the sine qua non, the desert island composer if there is one.

Nov. 01 2011 12:14 PM
Donald Palmer

As a music teacher, I am seeking a source for the Beethoven Poster

Nov. 01 2011 11:43 AM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

Beethoven Awareness Month is a great idea; the poster, however - well, not so much. When I first saw it on the website I thought: What happened to the first part of Beethoven's name? Then I realized it was a pun (and a rather confusing one at that!)
The whole concept, though, is excellent; so much so that I think you should take it even further and put a spotlight on a different composer each month. You can have special features on the composer of the month, and a 24-hour web stream of his music. In this way, you can highlight the music of many different composers, both familiar (like Tchaikovsky) and not so familiar (like Bruckner). Only, please, no more posters with bad puns (I don't think I can Handel that!)

Nov. 01 2011 10:43 AM

Is there a high-resolution version of the poster that you could make available for download? I've love to print it out but the current version is too blurry when enlarged.

Nov. 01 2011 02:25 AM
Barry Owen Furrer

To Mr. Meltzer's point, the poster is more pun-ishment than most people can Handel. One cannot turn a deaf ear to all the comments posted as well. I for one, would like to see November go to John Philip Sousa (born Nov. 6th) and place Mr. Beethoven in his birthday month of December unless the powers that be did not want a clash of the titans of both classical and Christian worlds.

Oct. 31 2011 10:59 PM
Michael Meltzer

Of course they should "spread the word" if they do it well.
The poster is weak, the opening pun is bad and to some it will be remote. A good ad has a distinct "call to action." All this has is WQXR in very small print, not even the FM frequency or on-line access.
It's an amateur effort.

Oct. 31 2011 08:42 PM
Edward Chang from NYC

I LOVE that poster! As a "youngish" person who just got into Beethoven in recent years I'm all for exposing and espousing the revolutionary image of B.
Perhaps it might not be too graceless to mention that I've been arranging Beethoven's works for "rock ensemble" - in the hopes of getting more kids into the sublimity of Beethoven...

Oct. 31 2011 08:21 PM
Bernie from UWS

@Neil would you rather the station not spread the word about classical music? Should they go about adhering to the stereotype of the mousy, nerdy classical radio station with docile hosts and boring contests? At least they're trying to be a little playful with things...

Oct. 31 2011 07:37 PM
Neil Schnall

Reportedly (NY Times), the budget for this campaign is "less than $300,000". Recent donors might be interested in knowing what their contributions were paying for.

I would remind WQXR: you can put lipstick on a pig.... but that won't alter its genus and species.

Oct. 31 2011 05:53 PM
Michael Meltzer

I don't think starting off with a pun is a good idea when your target audience, or at least part of it, has questionable reading skills too.
Part of my sales experience was with an important upscale manufacturer, and we had had it up to here with ad agencies producing clever and humorous ads that really only entertained other ad agencies but didn't sell anything.
I think you might take another look at your design and imagine yourself as its reader and knowing nothing. I mean nothing !!

Oct. 31 2011 02:56 PM
LES from WDC

To the earlier poster: I must disagree; WQXR is already cool and is getting cooler by the day, with talented and suprisingly hip on-air personalities and management that appears committed and enthusiastic. When compared to classical music stations in other cities, the difference is noticeable.

I'm sure WQXR gets new listeners all the time and some of them must be young(er). It cannot be that the only listeners are those of 75 years ago. But I do agree that appealing to younger listeners is important -- too many have no idea of the beauty they are missing. Education and exposure, and, of course, doing it in away that speaks to youth, is critical. WQXR seems to be on the right path. Good luck on the Where's Beethoven (Waldo) contest. A fine idea.

Oct. 31 2011 01:54 PM
sam randall

need a poster!!!!

Oct. 31 2011 01:15 PM
suzine from CA

great idea, great campaign. Where can I get a poster?

Oct. 31 2011 12:52 PM
Dawn Hannay from New York

Please make these posters and t-shirts with this image available for sale! Could be a great source of income!

Oct. 31 2011 11:28 AM
Len Goldenson

Desperate and ineffective. If you want younger listeners, do some outreach in schools and colleges. You're never going to make WQXR cool.

Oct. 31 2011 11:18 AM
levering from Fort Worth, Texas

Even though I'm in Texas, I would pledge WQXR if it would get me one of those posters...

Oct. 31 2011 09:00 AM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

I cannot imagine life without listening to Beethoven. My favorite symphonies are the 3, 9 and 7th. Love them all except the 5th. Fidelio has moments of real pathos. When Lenora finds Florestan brings tears to my eyes. I very rarely cry even if I am of Italian descent. The very first time I became aware of the beauty of his music was when I had purchased a sampler LP of different classical selections. The opening of the 3rd was one of pieces on that LP. My reaction was WOW. I was only in my early teens.

Oct. 31 2011 08:40 AM
Rich E

What a fine idea. My favorite symphonies are the 6th, the 9th, the 3rd and the 5th. Which is considered his masterwork?

Oct. 31 2011 06:09 AM

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