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We Are Not Beethoven

I’m pleased to announced that I have begun producing episodes of a new music show/podcast called “We Are Not Beethoven”. This is my contribution to NPR music critic Tom Manoff’s new venture, a start-up public radio network called Washington Public Radio.

The goal of “We Are Not Beethoven” is to talk about music like no other music show: evening the playing field of listening to and talking about music by humanizing composers and musicians, disregarding genres and categories, focusing heavily on listening, and confronting the barriers of entry that discourage people from exploring new kinds of music.

You can find a link to the first episode here, and below is a video preview of what I talk about in the first episode:





Comment from Chris
Time: August 7, 2012, 3:24 am

WTF does “We Are Not Beethoven” mean? That you are not good? That you do not strive to be the best, to reach an audience? That you do not want to push musical boundaries to their breaking point? That you do not want to write music that will endure hundreds of years? That you don’t aspire to greatness?

I am an ARDENT fan of contemporary classical, Ligeti, Feldman and Carter being in my estimation among the greatest of any age. But make no mistake, Beethoven is no ordinary “great” composer – he is the godfather of “avante-garde” music and, along with Bach the greatest composer that ever lived.

I applaud any effort to bring new music out to the public – I’ve been doing my part for many years and have had some success. But I can’t stand it when people think they are being “edgy” by disparaging an artist to whom they owe so much to.

Bad move…

Comment from Dennis Bathory-Kitsz
Time: August 7, 2012, 7:39 am

I’m not going to speak for Garrett, just provide my response as if the name had been my choice. And it is a good one.

Beethoven may be your avant-garde godfather, but he is an anchor. (Would-be Marxists of the sixties used Beethoven as their icon of real music, contrasted with an avant-garde that was not in their view.) He is the perfect example of what our times have grown away from — a driven, misogynistic, self-absorbed creature whose highest expression today is found in vulture capitalists.

And Bach? I suppose any good composer writing a generation late could write the ‘great’ music of the past. The notion of Bach’s greatness provided the model for expecting work to be misunderstood and dismissed by the present only to be discovered, Brandenburg-like, in the future. This post-attached hagiography is yet another anchor.

I hope that if this is what audiences are expecting that they won’t get it from Garrett. One can only hope to get away from such conservative and romantic concepts rather than embrace them. The idea of “We Are Not Beethoven” is a wonderful and refreshing challenge, and I wish Garrett the best in pursuing it.

Comment from Christian
Time: August 7, 2012, 4:14 pm

Congrats Garrett!

Comment from Chris
Time: August 7, 2012, 4:31 pm

@ Dennis

I didn’t know Susan McClary’s “Beethoven as Rapist” meme was still being used in intellectual circles, but you go on and run with it! And so what if Marxists claimed Beethoven as there own? A lot of groups have claimed him as their own. Big deal. As for Beethoven being “Driven” and “Self Absorbed” – um…ok? So what? The guy was raised by an abusive father, was ill most of his life and deaf to boot and you want him to act like Ghandi? Says a lot about you.

As for the vulture capitalist thing and your little rant about Bach – I have no idea what on earth you are trying to communicate but I feel it’s probably above my intellect so I won’t even bother.

Anyway, I wish the best of luck to this new show – new music needs its champions. Just think the name is lame.