All Ears on Beethoven

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With WQXR's Beethoven Awareness Month underway, Terrance McKnight takes this week to reflect on the composer's life, work, and his lasting influence on the worlds of jazz, pop, big band and even disco.

Today he's known as one of the greatest composers in history, but Beethoven was actually known as a brilliant pianist in his day. As a performer, one of his favorite works to play was his charming Andante for Piano ('Andante Favori') in F, we hear it performed by, Claudio Arrau.

A favorite of many, Beethoven's Für Elise, Bagatelle in A Minor has been heard in concert halls, movie theaters, and even popularized on television by no other than Schroeder on Charlie Brown. We hear a performance by pianist John O'Conor, and later the Brian Setzer Orchestra moves and grooves with a Fur Elise adaptation entitled "For Lisa."

Speaking of adaptations, in the almost 200 years since his death, Beethoven's music has been transcribed by countless artists, including celebrated pianist Franz Liszt, to crossover artists such Jacques Loussier and the Klazz Brothers, among others. We hear Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 performed by the Jacques Loussier Trio.
 
Rounding out the show is Walter Murphy's funky rendition of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 entitled A Fifth of Beethoven.
Weigh in: What are some of your most beloved Beethoven compositions?
Playlist:
Andante for Piano ('Andante Favori') in F, WOO 57
Ludwig van Beethoven
Claudio Arrau, piano
Philips

Beethoven

Cornell West / Terence Blanchard
Choices
Concord Jazz

Fur Elise, WoO 59
Ludwig van Beethoven
John O'Conor, piano
Telarc

For Lisa (An Adaptation of Beethoven's "Fur Elise")
Ludwig van Beethoven
Brian Setzer Orchestra

Rondino on a Theme by Beethoven
Fritz Kreisler
Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra
Janos Rolla, conductor
Isaac Stern, violin
CBS/Sony

Improvisation on Beethoven's "Pathetique" sonata, 2md movement
Ted Rosenthal
Ted Rosenthal, piano
Playscape Recordings

Beethoven Riffs On
Ludwig van Beethoven
The Biggest Little Band In The World
John Kirby Sextet

Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Beethoven, Op. 86

Max Reger
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Neeme Jarvi, conductor
Chandos

Diabelli Variations: Theme

Uri Caine, after Beethoven
Concerto Koln
Uri Caine, fortepiano
Winter & Winter

"Diabelli-Variations" in C, Op. 120

Ludwig van Beethoven
Maria Yudina, piano
Philips