by Dr Keith J. White
Posted on January 1 2015
As we enter a new year it is a time to look ahead with hope, and possibly longing. I do so having immersed myself in Jan Swafford’s biography of Beethoven, and try as I might I cannot find a way out of this enticing deep water unaided. So I will try by clutching at a straw provided by Daniel Barenboim in his remarkable television documentary on the nine symphonies of Beethoven. Like Swafford he sees them as part of a whole, each showing awareness of the road travelled thus far (by Beethoven himself as a composer, but also in the history of music including distinguished predecessors and contemporaries such as Mozart and Haydn), alongside a consciousness that they represent a personal journey reaching towards something beyond, perhaps unattainable. Beautifully apt in the light of this is the fact that the first symphony begins with a dominant seventh. This chord reaches out for, demands even, some form of development or resolution, and the ninth symphony with its Ode to Joy can be seen as the long awaited final cadence.
What has this got to do with letting children play a part? Well, as I intimated, I am clutching at straws, but it is a reminder that Beethoven always looked backwards with huge respect for those who had gone before, and yet was on a journey where the ultimate script (in the hands of fate) was his, rather than that of his predecessors or his benefactors. In this article, written on the threshold of January, I too want to look backwards to recent experiences as a basis for suggesting one or two ideas for the future.
In our extended family at Mill Grove, as in our western, British culture, December is a time of plays and drama. …