Quote of the day: Beethoven or Nick Cave?

He embodied the universal spirit of music who wrecked keyboards, swept in like a hurricane and turned even the strongest orchestra to jelly in the face of his music’s a priori exorbitancy.

Ernst Bloch on Beethoven (Philosophy of Music, p. 30), who really was a bit of a punk. In fact, the sentence could just as well apply to Nick Cave.

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12 thoughts on “Quote of the day: Beethoven or Nick Cave?

  1. You’re completely correct about Beethoven – he really WAS a bit of a punk especially in his later stone deaf years when he lived in a cave and wrote supposedly the ‘late Beethoven Punk’ which I find very hard on the ears. But there’s Punk and there’s Punk from Sex Pistols and the Clash to Bad Religion and Beethoven, the former good and the latter bad.

  2. “Well, early in the mornin’ I’m a-givin’ you a warnin’
    Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes.
    Hey diddle diddle, I am playin’ my fiddle,
    Ain’t got nothin’ to lose.
    Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tschaikowsky the news”.

    Chuck Berry

  3. For Adorno at least, the late Beethoven is the most utopian of the lot, writing music for instruments that can barely be imagined. So who said Adorno can’t provide resources for a theory of punk, let alone rock?

    1. “At its best New Wave/punk represents a fundamental and age-old Utopian dream: that if you give people the license to be as outrageous as they want in absolutely any fashion they can dream up, they’ll be creative about it, and do something good besides” Lester Bangs and Theodor Adorno were on the same page. That’s a fitting description for late Beethoven.

      1. In the interstices of Adorno’s championing of ‘New Music’ is a rich theory of punk, it seems to me, precisly because of his disparagement of jazz and pop music. Just like Bloch gives us a nascent theory of rock when discussing Beethoven and Wagner.

      1. Just before heading off I worked my way through the whole of Adorno’s writings on music. Fully half of what he wrote was in music criticism. Great read, but I always think he is the dark spot at the foot of the lighthouse that is Bloch’s thought.

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