bass players and beethoven’s immortally beloved ninth

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

THE BOSTON SYMPHONY was per­forming Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Sym­phony each Sunday during the month of De­cember. Now bass players hate Beethoven’s im­mor­tally beloved ‘Ninth,’ as there is a long seg­ment in the middle where they don’t have a thing to do—page after page and not a single note! It makes them look and feel dumb sit­ting there like that.

So rather than sit­ting on their stools idle for twenty min­utes, the con­ductor had de­cided that during this per­for­mance, after the bass players had played their parts in the opening, they were to qui­etly lay down their in­stru­ments and leave the stage.

This being Boston, there was an Irish tavern nearby rather fa­vored by local mu­si­cians when the tem­per­a­tures headed north, as they often do that time of year. Well, of course, once the bassists got back­stage, someone sug­gested that they head over to the tavern.













After tossing back more than a few shots of Tul­lamore Dew (this was an Irish pub, after all) in quick suc­ces­sion, one of the mu­si­cians looked at his watch and said, “Hey! We have to get back!”

“Nahhh. Don’t worry,” said an­other bassist. “I thought we might need some time, so I tied the last few pages of Mae­stro’s score to­gether with string. It’ll take him a few min­utes to get it untangled.”

Fi­nally, they stag­gered back to the Sym­phony Hall and took their places in the orchestra.

About this time, a member of the au­di­ence no­ticed the con­ductor seemed a bit edgy and pre­oc­cu­pied with some­thing, and said as much to her companion.

“Well, of course,” said the gen­tleman. “Don’t you see? It’s the bottom of the 9th, the score is tied, and the bassists are loaded.”



FEATURED IMAGE: The 1994 movie Im­mortal Beloved is a 1994 film stars one of our finest ac­tors Gary Oldman as one of our finest com­posers Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven’s sec­re­tary and first bi­og­ra­pher Anton Schindler seeks the iden­tity of a woman whom the com­poser had ad­dressed as Un­sterbliche Geliebte (‘im­mortal beloved’) in three let­ters found after his death. The wom­an’s iden­tity has never been determined.

The film’s writer-director Bernard Rose be­lieved the woman was ‘Jo­hanna,’ a claim that met little ac­cep­tance among scholars. The film re­ceived mixed re­views ex­cept for Oldman, who was al­most uni­ver­sally praised for his usual fine acting.

The movie’s score fea­tures ex­cerpts from a va­riety of Beethoven’s com­po­si­tions, in­cluding Sym­phonies 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9, Piano Con­certo 5, Piano Trio 4. the “Pa­the­tique” Sonata, “Fur Elise,” and the “Kreuzer” Sonata. The mu­si­cians in­clude Em­manuel Ax, Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma, and Murray Per­ahia with the London Sym­phony Or­chestra con­ducted by Sir Georg Solti.

Well worth seeing . . . 


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Well now... Im­mortal Beloved is on my Net­flix queue and I’ve dis­cov­ered Around Town! That’s quite a twofer.
Thanks for all that and the Ab­bott and Costello/baseball ref­er­ence. Love it!

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