Meanwhile … let the music play on?

Way back in March 2020, I recall hearing on the radio the thoughts of Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times as follows: “Before the coronavirus crisis hit, I was toying with writing a book about 21st-century political parties, but in light of this global epidemic it’s obvious that whatever nonfiction book you’re working on now, put it down. There is the world B.C. — Before Corona — and the world A.C. — After Corona. We have not even begun to fully grasp what the A.C. world will look like…” (

I’m all too aware from the statistics on the pandemic that globally we’re just starting, even though for the present in the UK the first peak has largely subsided. Events change daily, with the most recent being the rules that people returning from Spain are to self-isolate for two weeks. What next? Now in July 2020, I continue to wonder what the world will look like – particularly two elements I’m connected with – learning, and music. Will ‘live performances’ ever be quite the same again – particularly large-scale concerts or packed lectures? Fortunately we have technology to enable communication of thoughts, images, sounds and emotions to and from each other, and to record what is communicated so it can take place again, but will the unique occasion ever prevail in the way it could pre-covid19?

Naturally, 250 years after the birth of Beethoven, I’ve been revisiting many of his masterpieces. Last year, with friends I really enjoyed all nine symphonies being played live, in two days, by five different orchestras in turn at the Sage, Gateshead – what a feast. The recent 3-part portrayal of his life and works on BBC4 was revelatory. Some of my exercise is on an exercise bike in our conservatory at home, pedalling away, watching the weather, birds, and the changing mood of the garden outside. My activity is accompanied by music played through an old iPod on shuffle at the other end of the conservatory. From time to time, I have to temporarily dismount to ascertain who the performers are by looking at the tiny iPod screen. Such an occasion gave rise to the attached musings on one of Beethoven’s best-known works. Emperors-New-Clothes.docx (1314 downloads)