The best damn op 98 in history

I was driving Jorja Fleezanis and Michael Steinberg back to their hotel after our first meal upon their arrival when we got stuck at a railroad crossing. While I was chatting away to Jorja about trains as part of the rhythms of small town life, Michael was relatively quiet. To my mild relief, the train was gone pretty quickly.

“Phew, I was expecting that to take much longer,” I said.

“Ninety-eight cars,” said Michael. Aha, that was why he’d been a little quiet, he was counting!

“Okay,” I ventured, “here’s a trivia question- what is the best Op 98 ever….”

Being the end of the day, neither of us had too many great ideas, but here are some notable Op 98s

Beethoven- Song Cycle “To the Immortal Beloved” (“An die ferne Geliebte”).

Brahms- Symphony no. 4 in E minor

Shostakovich- Five Romances on Poems of Dolmatovsky

Dvorak Suite in A Major for Piano

Prokofiev- Unpublished Sketches for the Soviet National Anthem


So, this is an easy one- Brahms a decisive winner, with Beethoven a clear, if deeply moving, 2nd…. Prokofiev gets the nod for least likely to get programmed


Redneck Longhair Music update-

Weather- improving, roads melting

Musicians- approaching

Ken’s Mood- mellowing (cautiously)

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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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