Beethoven 6- wilder than Beethoven 5!

To those of you waiting anxiously for the next Kindertotenlieder piece, I’m sorry for the delay. I had a long trans-Atlantic this week en route to the current Oregon East Symphony concert, and I’m trying to whip my cello playing back into shape for a concert on Sunday, and those Mahler blogs are quite time consuming, even when you have access to your computer.

I finally made it to Pendleton yesterday afternoon and went straight to rehearsal. We had a youth orchestra rehearsal from 4-6 and OES from 7-10. Interestingly, the kids are doing Beethoven 5 and the “grownups” (note the quote marks) are doing Beethoven 6. Having been completely consumed with administrative nightmares last week, I pretty much walked into those rehearsals without having looked at either piece in some months, something I generally never do. Sometimes, though- IF YOU ALREADY KNOW THE PIECE- that’s not the worst thing to do, because you come to the rehearsal really fresh and attentive. What really struck me last night is just how much more modern, innovative and radical the 6th is than the 5th, which we all think of as the “revolutionary’ piece in Beethoven’s output. The Pastoral really stands apart from all the other symphonies he wrote- he works with ideas in ways he never did again. The piece uses repetition in a truly radical way.

Anyway, there I was working on it last night thinking Janacek and Philip Glass both should have been sending him royalties. There really is nothing new under the sun….. c. 2006 Kenneth Woods

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

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