In Monday’s (2/24) edition of The Atlantic, Colin Fleming writes, “Ludwig van Beethoven may have been the most serious guy in all of classical music. … Most of the time, that is. But there was also the occasion when Beethoven, in the midst of a personal—and odd—life crisis, opted to create a work to please madcaps, jesters, and wiseasses alike. I’m talking about the Eighth Symphony. It’s arguably Beethoven’s most overlooked, coming as it does before the world-beating Ninth, and clocking in at a rapid 26 minutes. It was the last symphony from Beethoven’s middle period, receiving its premiere 200 years ago on February 24, 1814, in Vienna. And it is absolutely bonkers, mad, brave, cheekily pugnacious, punchy, and akin to what Lear’s Fool, Samuel Beckett, and a young Mozart might have come up with if those three ever got together to have a musical bash. Normally, you hear a work by Beethoven and the soul is roiled, and maybe you have to sit and gather yourself for some time afterwards. But the Eighth makes you want to head out on the town for a few beers with the man himself. … the Eighth doesn’t feel like a journey. A lot is going on at once, allowing you to direct your attention where best you see fit in a given moment. It’s like life that way.”

Posted February 25, 2014