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Who Made Beethoven Mad Enough to Un-Dedicate a Symphony?
If a politician’s broken promises ever broke your heart, Beethoven knew how you feel.
When Ludwig van Beethoven’s Third Symphony premiered in Vienna on April 7, 1805, the enthralled audience was oblivious to the tortured history behind the music. Famous for his furious temper, Beethoven belonged to the Romantic generation of the early 19th century of Sturm und Drang (German for “storm and stress”), an era of political and artistic upheaval. One man in particular, however, stressed Beethoven enough in those stormy times to make him strike out the dedication he had made for that Third Symphony, literally tearing a hole in the manuscript (shown above). If a politician’s broken promises ever broke your heart, you’ll know how Beethoven felt when he was mad enough to un-dedicate a symphony.
By 1804, when Beethoven began writing his Third Symphony, he was already a leading figure in the cutting-edge Romantic school of classical music. We’re so attuned to Beethoven’s now-familiar music today that it’s impossible for us to appreciate just how revolutionary his contemporaries would have considered him. As Jan Swafford’s recent biography Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph argued (and I reviewed here), Beethoven was “a radical evolutionary” who viewed his music as just another piece of the quickly building puzzle of an evolving Europe still trembling from the shake-up of the French Revolution.
Like so many others during the time, Beethoven followed the career of Napoleon Bonaparte (shown above) with great interest. As kings and queens fell, Napoleon rose from humble beginnings to lead France into a future built on democracy and meritocracy rather than royalty and bloodlines. Recognizing a figure as charismatic as himself, Beethoven dedicated his next symphony to Bonaparte. Even later, when financial concerns forced Beethoven to officially re-dedicate the Third Symphony to paying patron Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz, Beethoven titled the work “Buonaparte.” Money talked, but not loudly enough for Beethoven to disconnect the music from the man of the moment.
Only one thing could break Beethoven’s infatuation with Napoleon—Napoleon becoming the thing he claimed he would end. When Beethoven learned that his hero had crowned himself Emperor (and Josephine Empress; as shown above), he reportedly raged, “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 took the manuscript to the Third Symphony and violently scratched out the remaining references to Bonaparte hard enough to rip through the paper (image shown at top of post). The hole in the page matched the hole in Beethoven’s idealistic heart.
From that moment, the “Buonaparte” Symphony became the “Eroica” Symphony, dedicated to “heroic” men and women everywhere. Sadly, the symphony’s been associated most often with the loss of heroic figures. When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Boston Symphony Orchestra music director Erich Leinsdorf announced the news to the stunned concert audience before leading the orchestra in the Third Symphony’s second movement, a funeral march (video above). Promises may be made to be broken, but political promises broken break hearts even harder. Donald Trump recently claimed he could shoot someone and not lose voters, which might be the 21st century America equivalent of crowning yourself king. Whatever your ideals (if you're a "Trump-eter" or "Feel the Bern"), if you’ve ever pinned your hopes on a hero only to have them tumble from the pedestal, play that second movement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony (video below) and know you’re not the first (or the last).
Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?
Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.