hey ms. dj

for those of you who aren’t (yet) listening to stumptown’s 89.9, let me just say it’s gotta be the most kick-ass classical radio station in the country.  seriously.  there are a million reasons why this is true, but without question, a key ingredient is the awesome on-air talent spinning all those oldies but goodies.  case in point: christa wessel.  i decided to pick ms. wessel’s brain about Beethoven’s symphony #3 which the oregon symphony will be playing saturday, sunday, and monday.  [btw christa, bonus points for including pics – thanks!]

I have a tattoo on my ankle.  The result of a wanton trip to Amsterdam decades ago, I’m only slightly regretful now.  At least I chose an image I’m not ashamed of or embarrassed by.  I always wonder, though, about those people who rush to the tattoo parlor to get the name of their girlfriend permanently inked on their skin.  What if there’s a breakup?  Thankfully the tattoo industry knows how to creatively camouflage these kinds of spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Though Beethoven didn’t tattoo Napoleon Bonaparte’s name on his bicep, he was planning a permanent acknowledgement of the leader in the dedication of his Symphony No. 3.  Beethoven held Napoleon in the highest esteem as a champion of liberty and freedom, and he planned to call the work Bonaparte.  Then Beethoven heard the news that Napoleon had declared himself Emperor, and the composer flew into a rage: “So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!”

Beethoven so fiercely scratched out the word Bonaparte on the title page of the score that he tore right through the paper.  He renamed the symphony Heroic Symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.  I love that he totally slammed Napoleon by using the word “memory” when the guy wasn’t even dead yet!

We now know his Symphony No. 3 as simply, The Eroica.  Though Beethoven’s “tattoo” was altered, he wrote the symphony with Bonaparte in mind.  Listen and know that, despite his disappointment in Napoleon, this heroic music remained the composer’s own favorite symphony.


2 Responses to “hey ms. dj”

  1. 1 Childe Harold April 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    We your adoring reading public would be grateful for a glimpse of the ankle tattoo from A’dam, alsjeblief! Misschein een marihuana bladje? 🙂 Bedankt in vooruit.

  2. 2 Christa Wessel April 19, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I don’t have a photo of the tattoo, Childe, but here’s the image:


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