Musings: Join Us for Music Sunday, Mar. 19

“…the spring sun of the arts forms light out of suffering.” These lines are from a poem by Christoph Kuffner, set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven, for his Choral Fantasy, Op. 80. “Reports are numerous regarding the fiasco of the Choral Fantasy, introduced to the world at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien (capacity 1,230) on December 22, 1808 as “Improvisation for piano with gradual entrance of the orchestra and finally a choral section and finale.” On the same program were the Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6, the Fourth Piano Concerto, an aria, two excerpts from his in-progress Mass in C, and a solo improvisation. Nearly all of the music, including some of the most challenging ever devised by the mind of man, was sight-read at the concert, which lasted from 6:30 to 10:30. According to the composer’s piano pupil Ferdinand Ries: ‘We experienced the fact that one could easily have too much of a good – and even more, a powerful – thing.’” (Herbert Glass)

“When the master brought out his orchestral Fantasia with choruses, he arranged with me at the somewhat hurried rehearsal, with wet voice-parts as usual, that the second variation should be played without repeat. In the evening, however, absorbed in his creation, he forgot all about the instructions which he had given, repeated the first part while the orchestra accompanied the second, which sounded not altogether edifying. A trifle too late, the Concertmaster, Unrath, noticed the mistake, looked in surprise at his lost companions, stopped playing and called out dryly: ‘Again!’ A little displeased, the violinist Anton Wranitzky asked ‘With repeats?’ ‘Yes,’ came the answer, and now the thing went straight as a string.” (Ignaz von Seyfried)

We hope to have fewer difficulties with this lovely work, and we invite you to join us. FUUSN’s Music Sunday is March 19. Our soloist in the Beethoven is the sublime Lois Shapiro, and we will have a small orchestra accompanying her. The choir will sing some other works, by Bach, Schütz, and Uusberg. Rehearsals are on Wednesdays, 7:30-8:30 p.m., in the Chapel. For more information, email Anne Watson Born at