Dec 16 2007
Happy birthday, Beethoven!
Besides being an avid birder I’m a fan of classical music, especially Beethoven, so I feel lucky to work at WQED where I listen to classical music on the job. On Beethoven’s Birthday we have a big all-day celebration and play his works ’til the cows come home. I never tire of it. I even manage to mix Beethoven and birds in a couple of ways.
First, there are birds in some of Beethoven’s works. My favorite springtime symphony is Beethoven’s Sixth, also called the Pastoral Symphony. At the end of the second movement, there is a cadenza that imitates three bird songs: nightingale (flute), quail (oboe) and European cuckoo (clarinet). I was lucky to hear a cuckoo in Italy and yes, it sounds like the bird in the Sixth Symphony.
Second, I listen to classical music in the car as I drive out to hike. This puts me in a good mood and gives me a tune to whistle while I walk. Amazingly, when I whistle Beethoven the birds often approach me to see what I’m doing. Perhaps I whistle badly but maybe, just maybe, they like Beethoven too.
Don’t miss the celebration. You can hear it on WQED-FM at 89.3 in Pittsburgh, or WQEJ-FM 89.7 in Johnstown or on the web.
Bonus Factlet: Did you know Beethoven was a contemporary of Jane Austen? They were born on the same day only five years apart.