Tag Archives: Beethoven

The Hidden Meaning of “Fragile” Music

My friend’s four and a half-year-old daughter always wants to look at things in my room. She’s not allowed to come in without my permission, so the off-limits zone is mostly likely, enticing.

The other day she was given permission and gleefully wandered around before stopping by my internet radio and listening. “Hey, what’s the fragile music you’re playing?” I was listening to classical music, the only thing I ever listen to on my internet radio. “What do you mean?” I asked her. “Why is it fragile?”

“There aren’t any voices, it’s just music playing, so it’s fragile.” Well, I didn’t ask for her definition of fragile. But I couldn’t get this new term for classical music out of my mind. Coincidentally, I went to the symphony that very evening and ended up OD’ing on a dose of profound fragility.

I listened in awe to the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor Antoni Wit complete its American tour with the Russian virtuoso Yulianna Avdeeva, who performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto Op. 73 on a Steinway grand. According to Avdeeva, the Steinway was “tuned to 442.”

I kept thinking how fragile Beethoven’s Emperor is, how fragile Avdeeva is (she rarely pedaled on the Allegro — only immortals can carry that off!), and how fragile a 442 tuning is. In fact as the remarkable night wore on, I realized the pantheon of classical music greats and classical music in general, is fragile. It’s all very fragi-cal music.

Photo: Angela Frucci

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