I’ve written before about coincidences and how I seem to be prescient, thinking of things or events before they happen. Well, I had a beauty yesterday.

During the afternoon I was browsing my music collection on the PC (using the Helium cataloguing program) and happened to choose to listen to Beethoven’s Symphony no. 1. No reason, I just thought I hadn’t heard it for quite a while so I listened to it all the way through.

Then last night I was editing the recorded TV programs on my hard disk recorder. One of them was a movie from SBS the night before called Bad Words (an American movie about a spelling bee – it doesn’t matter). I started to play it and what should the music under the opening titles be? Beethoven’s Symphony no. 1. I shook my head in disbelief. This really is weird. There is no link, no way I could have accidentally known or heard this movie’s start. I shake my head in amazement.


Beethoven’s symphonies are such a treasure and the sequence is so interesting. I’ve been listening to them for more than forty years and never grow tired of hearing them. At one stage in my twenties I used to be able to recall the opening bars in my mind of each of the nine symphonies. I can’t do them all now, but certainly I can still remember the best known ones.

Numbers 1 and 2 were written when Beethoven would have been hearing Mozart’s works. Beethoven was 21 when Mozart, who was 15 years his senior died and Beethoven must have been heavily influenced by him, so his symphonies 1 & 2 owed something to Mozart, although they show distinctive touches of Beethoven’s gift for melody and are delightful to listen to.

Then he broke the mould, defying the conventions with the great Symphony no. 3, Eroica, the Heroic. This was new music, owing nothing the the style of Mozart or any of the other past composers. It introduced discordant notes and powerful emotion, something new to his audiences. He still had his hearing and knew exactly what he wanted to say. The audiences were shocked at the time, but the music has more than stood the test of time. This is my favourite of the symphonies and I must have listened to it a hundred times or more in the last 40 years, always finding something new or familiar. I never tire of it.

Number 4 was something of a return to the Viennese style, more dance-like, as if to atone for his blasphemy and once more appeal to his audiences. After all, he depended on his concerts and music sales for his livelihood.

Then came the famous Symphony no. 5, the best known opening in the world’s memory: Da Da Da Daaaaah, Da Da Da Daaahhh. This once again broke new ground and was unlike anything ever written before. Its enduring popularity after 300 years testifies to its greatness.

Again in symphony no. 6 he returned to a quieter style, naming it the Pastoral, evoking scenes in the country, blue skies, birds, a lovely dance, a passing storm then a peaceful ending.

Symphony no. 7 is something of an odd man out in the sequence, somewhat bombastic but full of melody, yet not as memorable.

Symphony no. 8 is one of my favourites, especially the second movement, marked allegretto scherzando, dancelike, almost metronomic in its rythm.

Then comes the other contender for most famous, the great Symphony no. 9, universally known as Beethoven’s Ninth. It consists of five movements, whereas all his previous symphonies had only four, and introduced the human voice with the orchestra for the first time in a symphony in the famous and well known final movement, subtitled Ode to Joy. By this time Beethoven was almost totally deaf, yet he could write this, hearing it only in his mind and transferring the sounds to musical notation on paper. To me the third movement, adagio molto e cantabile is one of the most sublime pieces of music ever written.

No-one writes music like this, as great as this any more. Why? What was it about the period from about 1685 to 1950 that produced so many geniuses and prodigies, writing so much great music? Why has it stopped? Will we ever see or hear anything like it again?

Arguments invited. On a postcard please, with a money order for $10. 🙂


I finally got around to installing four IKEA CD towers a few days ago. I’m ashamed to say that they sat there for more than two years, waiting to be screwed to the wall and the shelving to be inserted. I have trouble getting up the step ladder these days, but I got a burst of energy a few days ago and now it’s done, helped by having a small impact drill. That makes all the difference when drilling into brick. Zoom, like drilling into butter, and the drill point doesn’t have time to wander.

But I’m a bit frustrated – IKEA’s famous quality control seems to have slipped a bit. I bought these four towers at the same time, but I’ve found that two of them are different to the other two:


Notice how the hole size is different? The one on the left’s holes are smaller than the ones on the right, and you can see by the size of the pins. The left one is half thin, half fat, the right one is all fat. All the small holes had to be enlarged to take the pins! They were too tight to just push in. Luckily I have a tapered reamer that I could twirl with my fingers because there’s no way to get a drill in there. It was very tedious. Luckily I had just the right number of pins of each size with a couple of spares.

Also, these cabinets are described as “Black/brown” but I’m damned if I can see any brown in there. They used to make a “Red/brown” which was about the colour of jarrah, very nice, but they stopped it many years ago. I don’t like this black colour – I chose it because these are against a dark blue wall, but I wish I had bought white now. Bit late.


The saga of the Honda MDX radio reception continues. I measured the continuity of the connection between the antenna on the roof and the plug in the dash the other day and it appears to be open circuit, dammit. I tried to see where the wire from the roof would come down the body side channel by removing a rubber coupling but no luck, you can’t distinguish any wire from any other.

I suppose the simplest and most likely explanation would be a break at the plug itself, behind the radio. That’s where the most stress and movement would be. I have yet to check it. Watch this space.


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