This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, the predominant musical figure in the Classical era. The Gyeonggi Art Center (GGAC), formerly known as the Gyeonggi Cultural Hall, has started creating a video series, which one can look inside the art world of Beethoven in a not-to-serious and funny manner.
The video features three people including Choi Jong-hyuk, producer at the GGAC, Jeong Na-ra, associate conductor at the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, and Noh Seung-lim, music columnist. They will be introducing everything about Beethoven from his family history to his influence, once a week in a total of 25 episodes. We asked them about the five already released episodes, from the prologue “Coffeeholic Beethoven” to the fourth episode, “Battle of the Century: Mozart vs. Beethoven.”
Q: Is it true that Beethoven was a love child?
A: I think that rumor came out because a genius like Beethoven was born from an untalented musician like Beethoven’s father. Beethoven himself enjoyed the rumor but did not go around and tell people about it for the honor of his mother.
Q: I heard that Beethoven’s father was a drunkard.
A: It ran in the family because Beethoven’s grandfather owned a brewery. Beethoven’s grandmother died of alcoholism and Beethoven himself suffered from liver cirrhosis. People drank wine like water at that time since wine was produced along the Rhine River.
Q: Did Beethoven’s father abuse his son like the rumor?
A: Yes, his father did according to some testimonies. His father even locked Beethoven in the basement. But it is hard to say it was harsh considering educational practices of the time. His father made the best rational choice when it came to Beethoven’s education.
Q: Did Beethoven’s artistic ideal resemble that of Bong Joon-ho?
A: Beethoven said good music is an infinite expression of an extreme individual. It is reminiscent of “the most personal is the most creative,” which is a quote (from Martin Scorsese) used by director Bong.
Q: What did Beethoven think of Mozart’s music?
A: He frequently played Mozart’s music at recitals and expressed his respect by writing variations on themes by Mozart. But Beethoven reportedly said to his friends that Mozart’s music is like music cut into pieces and they do not suit his taste.
More than 20 episodes like this are waiting to be released. In addition to the voluble cast, the witty subtitles, such as using the head of conductor Jeong as Korean alphabet “ㅇ” instead of writing an actual alphabet, add to the entertainment.
“I come into the show with a brief scenario. But once we start shooting, we talk about a lot of interesting stories outside the scenario that even makes me fascinated,” said producer Choi. “I’m planning to introduce Gustav Mahler’s music after the Beethoven series.”