13.12.2006 12:39 - Roll Over Beethoven
There's a lot of things people will tell you about music that just aren't true.
For example, people will tell you that "serious" composers were a lot better behaved than modern day Rockers. Not true, as we shall see. The difference between these and modern "pop idols" is that they didn't have, or get, the attention of the modern mass-media. Let's meet a few of these geniuses, shall we?
The Shag-Mad Egomaniac
Mozart was a complete raver, who frequently gave away extravagant gifts, like Elvis Presley. He is reputed to have heard the "Miserere" once in the Sistine chapel, and then wrote a complete transcription of it - thus breaking the Catholic church's copyright (RIAA take note). He was crude and loutish - a fact confirmed by his personal correspondence and his two Canons, "Leck mich im Arsch" and "Leck mich im Arsch recht Schön Sauber" ("Lick my arse" and "lick my arse nice and clean", respectively). He is reputed to have suffered from Tourettes Syndrome, and apparently got through the groupies at a hellish rate.
The Romantic/Goth Prescripton Drug-Abuser
Beethoven was a total Mozart fan-boy, the product of an alcoholic father and a mother riddled with tuberculosis. His violent mood-swings, deafness and depression have been attributed to lead poisoning - at the time, lead was considered to be an everyday prescription drug (and a common cosmetic). His depressions, however, may have been exacerbated by the German habit of clapping along to classical music on the on-beat, so it may be fortuitous that he lost his hearing. Many of his works include an element of surprise, which was probably there to irritate the people who would insist on clapping along. Another possible cause of loss of hearing was his work as a Cappelmeister, playing enormous church organs - the Marshall stacks of their day.
Taking Drugs to Make Music To Take Drugs To
The german habit of clapping along on the on-beat was to be directly responsible for one of the main innovations in 20th Century music : BeBop Jazz. Try clapping along to the on-beat in that, man. Thelonious Monk is generally considered to be the initial innovator behind BeBop. It's said that the best way to understand BeBop is on drugs, and Monk was no exception to the rule, having been caught on numerous occasions with suitcases full of the stuff. There were times when Monk was so stoned he thought he was an accordian player - which can be pretty dangerous when you're playing a grand piano. Eye-witnesses in the 1960's at a London concert report that Monk was so out of it he didn't know what country he was in, let alone what town. His later uncommunicativeness has often been held to be due to narcotic-induced mental illness, turning him into Jazz's very own Syd Barrett. In his final tour in 1971, he practically never spoke to bassist Al McKibbon and Drummer Art Blakey, giving the reason that they were "too ugly".