“I realized that my job is to awaken possibility in others.”

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Beethoven: Symphony no. 9 - 4th movement - Tenor aria

Interpretation Class
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David Rivera Bozón (tenor) and Pierre-Nicolas Colombat (piano)

“You’re in a state of wonder and awe at the firmament.”

— Benjamin Zander

Video Transcript

David Augosto Rivera Bozon:
(Singing).

Ben Zander:
Good. Great. Well done. You did that. Now, you’ll not be surprised to hear that there’s much controversy about that.

David Augosto Rivera Bozon:
Yes.

Ben Zander:
And let me tell you very briefly what happened. I don’t have a lot of time to do it, because I have something else I want to do. But when Beethoven originally put the metronome marks in for this piece, he did it in the following way. He sat at the piano, his nephew sat at a table with a metronome. And a metronome in those days, went like this, right? And put down the numbers.

David Augosto Rivera Bozon:
Yeah.

Ben Zander:
And what he put down, was the number 84. That was the tempo he put for that. And when he then took those numbers and put them in the score, Karl, he added a dotted quarter note for the time signature. And a dotted quarter note time signature is this tempo. No, no, no. Much slower. What do you have? Dotted quarter?

Speaker 3:
I have this.

Ben Zander:
Ah, oh, that’s very interesting.

Speaker 3:
This is the Barenreiter.

Ben Zander:
Wow. That’s interesting. Well, poor Karl made a mistake. And so he made it very slow.

Ben Zander:
Well, it’s probably not possible. Because what he marked Italian, the Italian marking was Allegro Assai Vivace, which means very fast.

David Augosto Rivera Bozon:
Yeah.

Ben Zander:
So clearly that can’t be right. But that’s the way it was printed in all the parts. I notice that your score has upgraded it to what I believe is correct. Which is half note, dotted half note equals 84. In other words, twice as fast. Now, what Beethoven wrote himself, what was written originally in the conversation book was 6/8, 84. Nothing. No dotted quarter, dotted half. Just 6/8, 84. But I’m assuming that it is perfectly appropriate, given the Italian marking that it’d be twice as fast. That means, it’s just through the beginning. Here it is. Hang on. I’ve got to give it 84 here. Oh, it’s died. Oh, the metronome’s died. Yeah. You see, in those days, they didn’t have that problem.

Ben Zander:
84. Here we are. Isn’t that fun? Isn’t that fun? And it’s marchy. It’s a ceremonial March. Perfect tempo for that. Just do it again.

Ben Zander:
That. Now, what you’re doing is you are saying, “Look at the skies, look at the skies. Look at the amazing firmament. Look what an astonishing beauty there is in the world.” And you are talking about you’re in a state of wonder, of awe, at the firmament. And singing pianissimo or piano. Not the way that most tenors do, singing as loud as they can. But rather piano and looking up. Should we just try that? Just do the join where he comes in.

Speaker 3:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben Zander:
Yeah. Before the four. Should we just do? Right, a little bit before here. Here, here.

David Augosto Rivera Bozon:
(Singing)

Ben Zander:
Good. Good. Great. Now even more, think of it. What a sense of wonder. Oh my God. Oh, look at this beautiful sky. Look at this world, and God behind. Just with ecstasy. Can we just try that? And sing softer. Bravo. You were great. Here, once again.

David Augosto Rivera Bozon:
(Singing).

Ben Zander:
Sing piano because they’re playing pianissimo. Once again.

David Augosto Rivera Bozon:
(Singing).

Ben Zander:
Oh, beautiful. Beautiful. Great. That’s beautiful. You are saying, “What an amazing.” It means “wonderful plan.” The God’s wonderful plan. It’s a state of ecstasy, of joy, of light, of beautiful. And look it, the orchestra plays very soft like that. The only place you can hear that is on my recording, and then comes the next section. Then you gather up your people and say, “Now we’re going into battle.” And the battle is incredibly fast and very difficult to play, but it really is. And then at 84. It’s so clearly right. But it hasn’t been done before. Isn’t that interesting? There isn’t any other performance that actually done it of Beethoven. Should we do it one last time?

David Augosto Rivera Bozon:
Yeah.

Ben Zander:
Just so you’ll join it up, and you stay really soft for the piccolo. The marching. And don’t sing too loud now. And God’s beautiful plan. Here we are.

David Augosto Rivera Bozon:
(Singing).

Ben Zander:
Beautiful. Great, well done.

CombatMarshmallo
'I just love how he manages to bring out the beauty and joy of music not only in the musicians but in the audience and anyone watching these videos. I'm sitting here with a big grin on my face. Mr. Zander is truly a gift to humanity as his passions and teachings and work with musicians truly brings out everyone's best.'
Whoop John
'Extraordinary. I bought the Zander version on iTunes yesterday afternoon. What a coincidence that this video comes out the following day. I'm one of Ben's people that like classical music but just don't know it yet.'
Robert Methuen
'This is wonderful. In a few minutes the soloist is transformed from apparently nervous and slightly inaccurate to confident and spot on; this is thanks to the change of speed and to Mr Zander's warmth and positivity. Well done to the pianist too, for coping with the much faster tempo.'
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