A Final Bow for Beethoven Awareness Month

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It started slowly, as awareness began to rise, and then all over the city – and beyond – people were celebrating Beethoven Awareness Month.

The WQXR campaign first got a jolt with a write-up in The New York Times, followed by a television ad and live radio kick-off from Grand Central Station featuring the breakdancer Dister bustin’ moves to music from the Escher String Quartet.

And, of course, there were the posters. Designed by the ad firm Eyeball in the style of graphic artist Shepard Fairey – best known for his Obey Giant street art and Barack Obama "Hope" poster – and reproduced with his permission, the striking Obey-Thoven image graced New York City subways and street corners.

"Of course I support classical music, and this homage to my work made me smile,” Fairey said in a statement.

Obey-Thoven then made its way onto the Twittersphere as the hashtag #Obeythoven quickly caught on. In just a little more than a week, New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix deemed Obey-Thoven to be at the intersection of highbrow and brilliant.

Always intended to a playful as well as serious ode to the great Ludwig van, online viewers were encouraged to submit their own entries to the Beethoven Time Machine, get a workout playlist and take a daily guess at Where’s Beethoven through a month-long photo contest.

On-air and online programing included the all-Beethoven stream, a live broadcast of Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique from Carnegie Hall performing Beethoven’s orchestral works, and a 12-hour marathon of Beethoven’s piano sonatas in the The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. A sold-out crowd watched in person as thousands tuned in online to see and hear some of classical music’s brightest young pianists, including Joyce Yang, Jeremy Denk, Timothy Andres, Natasha Paremski and Jonathan Biss, work through all 32 piano sonatas.

Earlier that same day, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg issued an official proclamation that Nov. 20 was "Beethoven Day" in New York.

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Comments [6]

Bravo for Beethoven Awareness Month! I live in NJ and my daughter lives in Chicago and we both listened to the 5th simultaneosly and texted each other with each movement. Thank you WQXR!

Nov. 04 2012 01:43 PM

when i first heard the Beethoven Awareness month commercial and people were citing the dog movie made me laugh out loud, thinking are they serious? BAM was a great concept and especially the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique Plays Beethoven was just mind blowing. I hope that QXR can explore other artists in this way.

Dec. 01 2011 09:48 PM
RP from NYC

Never thought I could become sick of Beethoven, but if I ever hear the "Ode to Joy" again, I think I will throw up.
Enough is enough. Beethoven all day for an entire month is like eating too much chocolate. It is delicious in sensible amounts, but too much makes one ill.

Dec. 01 2011 11:45 AM
Michael Meltzer

Ludwig has left the building.

Dec. 01 2011 06:31 AM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

I hope WQXR will continue this great idea by having Awareness Months for other composers as well.

Nov. 30 2011 01:42 PM
Peter from Oakland, New Jersey

The whole thing eludes me, in a way, perhaps because I've been a Beethoven fan and "classical music" radio listener since before "classical music" radio got dumbed down (that's why I still journey over the dial to WKCR, where you hear things never played on QXR). But in QXR's own universe, Beethoven's 9th Symphony always comes in first in the "classical countdown" at New Year's, and the Fifth and Sixth are usually always up in the top ten. Perhaps people have been aware all along!

Nov. 30 2011 11:05 AM

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