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December 17, 2011

Saluting Beethoven's birthday with one of his most sublime creations

To mark Beethoven's 241st birthday (17 December 1770), I wanted to share one of my favorite things -- it's always about me, isn't it? -- in all of the composer's works.

The first time I heard the quartet from "Fidelio" was in a college class, well before I was fully and irreparably bitten by the opera bug. Something about this music grabbed me in a big way, and I have never forgotten that initial appeal. I developed a soft spot for the whole opera because of this first act quartet, which, I think, has a truly sublime quality that never wears out.

So Happy Birthday, Ludwig, and thanks for everything.

In this clip, we'll hear the voices of ...

Jessye Norman, Pamela Coburn, Kurt Moll and Hans Peter Blochwitz. The conductor is Bernard Haitink.

Posted by Tim Smith at 3:11 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes


Happy birthday Ludwig !

Beethoven was baptized on the 17th december, 1770, and is probably born the the 16th of december, 1770.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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