September 08, 2010

Some people work for a living, some people work for fun

After too long a delay, I'm back with more rambling over at NewMusicBox. This is what happens when I get told I can't like what I like one too many times.

Also, some Boston Globe catch-up:

Some CD reviews: part one (scroll down), part two.
Reviewing Garrick Ohlsson.
Reviewing the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The book is nearing an end. But I could use some help on something. I was writing up my bit on Landsberg 6—the sketchbook that contains the first inklings of Beethoven's Fifth. Now, there isn't much, if anything, left to say about Landsberg 6, which musicologists have pretty well picked over since Nottebohm first wrote about it back in 1880. But, my brain being what it is, I ended up spending all of yesterday banging my head against the wall over the paucity of information on the sketchbook's namesake, Ludwig Landsberg. Born in Breslau (in 1804, 1805, or 1807, depending on who you believe), a tenor in the Berlin Opera chorus, also a violinist, he ended up living in Rome for twenty-some years, hosting soirees and promoting German music (most scholarly mentions surround one such salon at which the guest of honor was Fanny Mendelssohn). But he also owned a trove of manuscripts—not only Beethoven, but also Schubert, and Chopin, and scads of early music. My question: where did he get the money to amass that collection? Sure, manuscripts were cheaper back then, but they weren't free, and Landsberg's collecting was on a scale I would not expect on an expat violinist's salary. Was he well-connected? Did he have family money? (Apparently his brother back in Breslau was a banker, according to Thayer, who didn't bother mentioning his brother's first name.) My spidey sense is going crazy thinking that there has to be something more interesting going on with Landsberg that indicated in his Grove blurb, but every lead hits a brick wall.

2 comments:

rebecca.hunt said...

Which edition of Grove did you consult? The earlier editions may have something more for you. Alas, I do not have access to them.

Tom Myron said...

Man o man, I can't thank you enough for that NewMusicBox essay. It seems pretty obvious to me that the Teachout/'Generative Grammar' position is the one that actually encourages 'really only pretending to like music.' How else to explain a theory seemingly purpose-built to sell the entire art-form so short?