A Bad Day with Beethoven
Everyone has a “horrible, first day of school” story. Except for me. Until today. My last, first day of school.
Let’s preface the real story with the fact that I practically poured coffee all over myself on my way to school. Thankfully, it wasn’t hot and it was on my coat. However, I should have taken this as a sign.
9:30 a.m. class- Honors Music Colloquium: Beethoven’s Symphonic Theory
I also should have taken it as a sign when everyone in the 10 person class knew each other… because they were all grad students… studying music history, music theory, tuba, piano, etc.
As we went around the classroom saying our name, major and what we enjoyed about Beethoven, I knew I was screwed.
Person A: I’m a graduate student in Music History and have also played the piano my entire life. Thus, I know all about Beethoven’s history as well as the way all of his symphonies are composed and could tell you about each them down to each note. Oh look, I also have all 3 of these books about his symphonies that I just bought for fun and randomly brought to class.
Me: Uh.. I’m an undergraduate Journalism student and I have always been interested in music.
It was a real shining moment for me.
It only went downhill from there as the Austrian professor lectured in a foreign language. Background: I’ve grown up in choir, can/could read music, have played the clarinet, piano and guitar, making me think I was qualified enough. The class was practically in another language. About the only words I recognized were Beethoven, Bach and symphony. But even then, I couldn’t tell you what exactly characterizes a symphony and the origins of it (which he asked.)
As he was writing notes on the board and drawing symbols that were far from anything I’ve ever seen, I was hastily taking down every word. (At this point I was positive I had to drop the class, but would rather be safe than sorry) “Now, this is review for all of you, correct? Because the entire class will be building on these concepts,” he asked in his too cute accent that made me all the more upset. I look around and not a single other person is taking notes.
Okay, 5 minutes left in the class. He will surely let us go early, because I don’t know how much more of this I can take. HA what was I thinking?
“For the last few minutes, let’s listen to Sammartini. Follow along with the score I handed you then we will analytically discuss his work- what form it is in (which I had just comprehensively taken notes on, but definitely wouldn’t be able to decipher the score with), how you can tell and what the anomalies with his other works are (who the heck was this guy anyway?!).”
I have never, ever, ever been more excited to leave a class than the moment we were released.
Editor’s note: I have officially switched out of that class into The History of the Book in Early America.