Beethoven, the Heavy Metal of the Early 19th Century! | Nicolas Ellis | [email protected]

Beethoven, the Heavy Metal of the Early 19th Century! | Nicolas Ellis | TEDxYouth@Montreal


Translator: Midori T
Reviewer: Queenie Lee (Video starts) (Video ends) That was Cellos on Fire, a metal band in which I used to play
keyboard when I was in high school and [inaudible] even
during a few years in college. And I remember, you see, how happy I look. I remember how much I loved
to be onstage with the band and sometimes offstage as well. It was for me, as a classically
trained musician, a way to disconnect
through another kind of music. Today, I spend most of my time
being a conductor. I don’t only walk my dog,
I also conduct orchestras. And I simply love to work
with 60, 70, 80 musicians. And it truly inspires me to study and work on the great works
of the great composers of the past. When I get to study Beethoven, there is something deep inside me
that feels the same way I used to feel when I was with Cellos on Fire, because Beethoven had that raw,
direct and kind of thrash way to put music into your face. And with no doubt, he shocked
many people around him as a loud and also noisy composer. And with no doubt, he was therefore
the heavy metal of the early 19th century. (Laughter) But why is it that at his time the people could not understand his music, and yet today we consider him one
of the great masters of classical music? Well, Beethoven
had a very particular life. Before he was even a teen, he was almost beaten to death twice
by his alcoholic father. And in his early 30s,
he started to have hearing problems, and by the end of his life,
he became totally deaf. He never truly had a woman,
no girlfriends, really, in his life. He used to move a lot
from one apartment to the other; in fact, his apartments
were always a huge mess with manuscripts all over the piano and uneaten food that had been hanging
on the piano for several days. And he also got frustrated
and mad at a lot of people around him; in fact, one day, the Prince Lichnowsky,
who was one of Beethoven’s sponsors, had threatened to fire him because he would not accept
to play piano for French soldiers who were passing by his castle. So they got into this big
argument, this fight, and Beethoven, very frustrated,
leaves the room and slams the door. But before he does that, he leaves
a little note on a piece of paper on which it said: “Prince what you are,
you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been thousands of princes
and will be thousands more, but there is only one Beethoven.” How arrogant is that? But that was Beethoven,
a man who cried for his independence. And while life could only offer him
poverty and misery, his music was about triumph and joy. So when he started to give
his first concert as a composer, people just couldn’t figure out
what this loud composer was doing. Because while just before him, Mozart would start a symphony
with a beautiful melody like this one. (Playing piano) (Music ends) Beethoven, for instance,
started his 3rd Symphony with these 2 massive chords. (Playing piano) And later on in the same piece, he would use even more
thunderous chords like these. (Playing piano) (Music ends) Can you imagine
the aristocracy of the time who was hoping for some light concert
and ended up with this kind of music, loud music in their face? And people also thought Beethoven had this very annoying way
of not really finishing a piece. He would endlessly bang
chords over and over, like in the last movement
of his 5th Symphony, which goes like this. (Playing piano) (Music ends) People also thought he had very poor
talent for writing interesting melodies, and probably the most boring
melody he ever wrote comes from his 7th Symphony
in the 2nd Movement. (Playing piano) (Music ends) Not very interesting. Three different notes and he uses them
in a very repetitive way. Not much more original than maybe
one of Lady Gaga’s greatest hits. (Music) (Music ends) So you have got Lady Gaga on one side,
whose beautiful melody goes like this. (Playing piano) (Laughter) Brilliant, isn’t it?
And then on the other side, you have Beethoven, which is maybe
not much more original, go like this. (Playing piano) (Music ends) Some of you might think they went
to the same music school, who knows? (Laughter) But in all cases, did you know
that at Beethoven’s time, people thought he had a very poor talent
for writing interesting harmonies, interesting melodies, and they certainly didn’t think he had
any kind of finesse or elegance. And all that can actually be true
from one point of view but that would be misunderstanding
the essence of his genius. We were talking about his lack
of melody imagination. Let me play for you one of his most
jarring melody openings he ever wrote. (Playing piano) Now I hope you know this one.
It comes from his 5th Symphony. And if you think this is a melody,
you must also think how – that it is a very boring
and maybe stupid melody. Three repeating notes
followed by a longer one. It does not go anywhere, it is not
building nor decreasing in tension; it is simply what it is. Totally unoriginal. And that’s what people
thought of his music. But Beethoven’s genius resides
in what he was about to do with these three repeated notes
plus a longer one. So at this point of my talk, I want
to do a little experiment with you guys. Because when I was in high school
and I was your age, I remember having music classes, and sometimes it just felt so useless
to bang on a xylophone or to blow into a flute. Maybe some of you went through that. And I realized today that the main problem
I was experimenting with my teachers was that they’ve never taught us
how to listen to music and understanding the beauty
and the genius behind it. So you remember how Beethoven
starts the symphony. (Playing piano) Well, he uses this idea
as a building block, the same way your body
is built of trillions of cells. (Playing piano) (Music ends) Did you hear how he uses
the original motive and builds a first phrase out of it? That is way beyond your Justin Bieber
on your iPod, right? It is. No, don’t pretend. (Laughter) In all cases, let me play again
for you just a bit slower, and try to listen to how he develops those three repeating notes
plus a longer one. So from the beginning, from the top. (Playing piano) (Music ends) Now at this point, he is about to start
the second phrase of his symphony, and he is going
to do the exact same thing. He is going to use those three
repeating notes plus a longer one and build something more out of it. So, I’m going to play it for you, and I want you guys
to really listen carefully and try to follow how he
develops the original idea, okay? So we were at … (Playing piano) (Laughter) (Music ends) We could go through every single
bar of this symphony and find a way at every instance, a way to highlight how he uses
and develops the original idea. And that is what makes Beethoven
a true genius of structure and form because he could build a whole symphony
out of one single and simple idea. And that is the proof that sometimes
genius and beauty reside in simplicity. Now, even though this is pure genius, you must also know how much Beethoven struggled to put together
a big piece of music like a symphony, how much he changed, crossed out,
and tore up his manuscripts at madness, and wrote an unbelievable
amount of sketches before finally writing down
what he had in mind. When you take a look
at some of his manuscripts, like this one from his 9th Symphony, you really feel and see the agony
and the struggle and the inner battle this man was having. He just couldn’t figure out
what to put down on the piece of paper. Here is another one.
How crazy is that? And even though a lot of people
around Beethoven thought he was some kind of freak, he held on to that heavy metal
he was writing down. And even though he was
different and unusual, the same way Cellos on Fire and Lady Gaga
are being different in their own way. But Beethoven’s masterpieces, how ever different they are, were
and still are avant-garde and timeless. Listen to this. (Playing piano) (Music ends) Thank you very much. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Beethoven, the Heavy Metal of the Early 19th Century! | Nicolas Ellis | [email protected]

  1. I will always give Beethoven the credit for what got me to fall in love with music that he produced and what later morphed into my love for metal.

  2. Yes yes yes! You got it! I'm teaching Beethoven's 3rd symphony as music appreciation, and it is loud and in your face with massive chords!

  3. Beethoven's Symphonie #7 2nd mouvement is among my favorite, I understand what he's saying (Beethoven goes to the essence of the melody) but his melodies are numerous and recognizable Pastoral Symphony, Moonlight Sonata to name a few and of course the 5th symphonie and Piano Concerto.

  4. They say that Beethoven passed some hard time of his life searching for the cure to his deafness. Unfortunately, he didn't get to know YouTube.

  5. Had to laugh at "We could go through this whole symphony" – We did that in school, 11th grade in germany. That year completely changed my view on music. I'm a metalhead now, and apparently Beethoven distributed towards that even though i didnt know xD

  6. This was an informative demonstration for the apparent high school student audience he was speaking to regarding the structure of music. The commenters on this site who think that it was necessary to "nitpick details" or poke fun of his demonstration and musical abilities as being "subpar" or "not totally accurate" because it was not presented as though it was being given in front of an advanced college level music class have been totally unfair in the judgments they have posted here. Other commenters who made "out of line replies" to the comments made by other individuals here have demonstrated that they are simply idiots.

  7. This makes me feel better about my room habits….I don't think Beethoven can be held up to justify bad behavior…more I think it is that skill in bed making and skill at piano, violin or conducting are all different.

  8. I need a Beethoven patch for my battlevest.

    No, but seriously, I knew there had to be a reason why I always mention him as one of my favorite composers although I'm a metal person.

  9. Firstly Ludwig's pieces where understood because he followed all the musical rules however he applied them differently then anyone ever had and even in his day was considered one of the most recommend composers of his era he only become more famious in the far future.

  10. No I would never do that , than you be removing him from time than no music Prodigy and then then we wouldn’t have him now

  11. Very great speech ! However the Piano needs to be regulated as some hammers are double striking giving it a weird echo.

  12. Maestro you are very highly educated into this business and highly intelligent 🤓 and I find you very talented artists, good for you and your friends and family members, they might be so happy around you Young Maestro.
    I am glad and happy for your success dear human fellow.

  13. What even is the point of a conductor? It seems like only for show. The orchestra already knows how to play the music without some guy waving his arms.

  14. Frustrated, moody, alcoholic abusive father, messy room, no girlfriends, highly passionate, unappreciated most of his life, doesn't get much more metal than that

  15. I think some of his criticism towards Beethoven and how people looked at him in his own time is inaccurate. Beethoven was considered a genius in his own time unlike say Johan Sebastian Bach who is more considered an old fogey in his own time.

  16. People that listen to Classical Music have class. Just like listening to Rock/Metal means you know talent when you hear it.

  17. Slamming Brutal Death Metal….that is all, the one genre of metal that you have to be open about it regardless of it's extremity
    Beethoven – Slamming Brutal Death Metal
    Bach – Deathmetal
    Chopin – Deathcore
    Mozart -Metalcore

  18. The ssction hes talking about how he never ended his songs and just keeps playing chords over and over sounded a lot like a big rock ending to me.

  19. Love it !🤣🤘 it's the background music to most Buggs Bunny and Tom and Jerry cartoons .Usually didn't watch anything more than that growing up in the 70's and 80's 😂Probably the reason I'm a metal head today 😁🤘☠💀👹😈

  20. He spent so much time on the rhythm of those notes and didn't mention that the final piece he played used the same rhythm. I wanted him to talk more about Beethoven

  21. He seems to come at me as if I disagree that Beethoven is better than Bieber, and does so pretty aggressively! Stop attacking me, boy! I'm not the enemy, here!

  22. Seems like all the greatest and groundbreaking historical figures in music or otherwise end up spending the great majority of their lives being misunderstood by the masses.

  23. And what about his Immortal Beloved, also the title of a movie based off of one of the letters he wrote to a woman? You can find them for free, there are at least 2 of them translated into English.
    That's what you call his most boring?! That is not boring. A lot of classical music has a lead-in to the rest of the song. That lead-in becomes incorporated into the most powerful parts of that song. You are oversimplifying both that song and, well, Lady Gaga. Those are mot the only notes played and the same could pribably be said of many popular (and halfway decent) songs.

  24. What do all the great musicians have in common, the composers which link do they share? They are all. Masters!!! Masters!!! Lewl.

  25. Fantastic! I've always maintained that Beethoven is the Father of Heavy Metal Music. My friends understand my contention when I play for them The 5th at 2400 watts with a 22 inch subwoofer…. GLORIOUS. Also, I believe that his extreme use of fortisimo and pianissimo were a response to his frustrating loss of hearing. He was simply grounding his perspective through a comparative analysis of volume, brilliant! 🔉🔊🔇

  26. the people did hear and respect beethoven
    i believe he was the first composer to earn a stipend to write whatever he wanted
    certain pieces were not accepted because they were too complicated for the late 19th century ear
    he did have love affairs but with women he could never marry
    the manuscripts and food all over his apartment didnt happen until much later in his career, when his deafness and health problems started to increase and he spent all his time composing…fearing the end

  27. Harry has grown taller…by the way comparing Beethoven to Bieber is like comparing Caviar to Cauliflower…nice presentation BTW..

  28. Beethoven was pretty metal, but not nearly as metal as Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Chopin (for his scherzos and etudes), or earlier composers like Alessandro Scarlatti, Carlos Seixas, and Vivaldi. Also wish more people would take a deeper dive into metal beyond Metallica, Meshuggah, Opeth, and Gojira to explore the similarities on a less superficial, surface level with bands like Incantation, Burzum, Demilich, Gorguts, Massacra, Morbid Angel, Timeghoul, Adramalech, Graveland, Summoning, Paysage d'Hiver, Emperor, Sorcier des Glaces, Cor Scorpii, etc. And I'm not buying the "metal's role is to shock people" nonsense. It goes much further than that into the most epic, transcendent, nature-worshiping, passionate aspects of humanity.

  29. Very engaging thankyou Nicholas. I now have some understanding of why the favourite composer of my youth was so criticised in his time

  30. Music is fundamental in our communication, language, speech and hearing. I'm sure there are PET scans of the brain processing different languages and music. As much as an artist painter and an art appreciator differs in engaging with the art, the musician and the listener may also pick up different things. Learning to play something to perfection a 1000 times and then somebody hearing it for the first time will have a different experience. Music in in different language areas sound different reflecting the local language. Anyone up for some Peking opera?

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