Leftover Beethoven Miscellany: BPM

From time to time until the book comes out, this space will feature bits and pieces that were too esoteric, tangential, or just plain odd to make it into the final version.

The Allegro was taken, as we thought, too fast;—the common fault of all our orchestras. Beethoven was constantly lecturing his leaders on this matter. It is true that the whole rate and standard of time has accelerated lately, in perfect keeping with the restless character of the age; we live fast. And it is true that time is rather relative than positive, and that the most rapid prestissimo seems to glide on without hurry when the tempo of our own nerves and feelings and whole system corresponds.

The pioneering American music critic (and Beethoven fiend) John Sullivan Dwight, from an article (“Musical Review: Boston Philharmonic Society”) in the Feb 27, 1847 issue of The Harbinger, the Fourierist journal produced at the short-lived Brook Farm commune on the outskirts of Boston.

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