In February of this year, I was asked to be among the first “influencers” (yes, that’s how I was referred to: I, who am incapable of “influencing” my daughter to turn out the lights when she’s left a room or my son to flush the freakin’ toilet) to record original content for Amazon’s Audible brand. The result is a ten-lecture, five-hour (30 minutes per lecture), 40,000-word biography of Beethoven titled The Life and Times of Beethoven: The First Angry Man. Created in conjunction with The Great Courses, the course was recorded in Chantilly, Virginia in July and hit the market last month. A couple of points before moving on. Point one. By titling my course The First Angry Man, I have, admittedly, indulged in the tired cliché that Beethoven was angry pretty much all the time, a cliché reinforced a gazillion-fold by the famously scowling images of Beethoven that became stock-in-trade of the Beethoven myth as it evolved during the nineteenth century. In response to the clichéd images of a sullen, glowering Beethoven, enjoy the included image of Beethoven smiling. Yes, of course, it is bogus, but so is the impression that he never smiled or laughed, which he did, […] Continue Reading
We mark the birth on December 16, 1770 – 249 years ago today – of Ludwig, or Louis, or Luigi (he went by all three names) van Beethoven, in the Rhineland city of Bonn. Although there is no documentary evidence confirming that Beethoven was actually born on the 16th, we assume – with that proverbial 99.99% degree of certainty – that he was. This is because the Catholic parishes of the time required that newborns be baptized within 24 hours of birth and Beethoven’s baptism was registered at the church of St. Remigius on December 17, 1770.
As we brace ourselves for the hoopla celebrating the 250th year of Beethoven’s birth, we pause and ask ourselves, honestly, why Beethoven: why do we, as a listening public, so adore his music?
I would answer that question by drawing on some material from my recently published “Audible Original Course”, Beethoven: The First Angry Man (which, gratuitously, will be the topic of tomorrow’s Dr. Bob Prescribes post) Continue Reading
My thirtieth course for The Great Courses/The Teaching Company, “Music as a Mirror of History”, was released on Friday, July 22. (My friend Ed Leon – the Chief Brand Officer for The Great Courses – and I have a running dispute regarding how many courses I’ve made for TGC. Ed insists the number is twenty-eight, as the first and second editions of “How to Listen to and Understand Great Music” are out-of-print, having been supplanted by the third edition. Yes, it is true that “only” twenty-eight of my courses are currently in print and available. But. I have indeed made and recorded thirty courses, and the fact that two of them are out-of-print doesn’t unmake and un-record them. So Eddie, baby, I’m sticking with my number thirty! I trust I will be forgiven this sin of numerical pride.) “Music as a Mirror of History” was a challenging course to write and, with its often emotionally charged subject matter, an even tougher course to record. We’ve put together a ten-minute excerpt from the first lecture that effectively outlines (if I don’t mind saying so myself) the goals and overall content of the course. Check out the video and then, hopefully inspired […] Continue Reading
My apologies up front for this entirely gratuitous, self-serving, pat-myself-and-The-Great-Courses-on-the-back entry, but this sort of thing does not happen very often (at least not to me), so I’m making hay while I can. Audible.com has just released its current “best seller” non-fiction audio books list, and two of my pieces – “The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works” and “A Brief History of Holiday Music” are on it, at numbers 5 and 9 respectively. Here’s the Nonfiction list – click to see the full listing: Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy, narrated by the author (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) Fry’s English Delight: The Complete Series by Stephen Fry, narrated by Stephen Fry (Audible Studios) The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer, narrated by John Lee (Audible Studios) Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground by Kevin Poulsen, narrated by Eric Michael Summerer (Tantor Audio) The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works by The Great Courses, narrated by Professor Robert Greenberg (The Great Courses) Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling, narrated by the author with Greg Daniels and […] Continue Reading
I’ve often wondered what our clothing would look like if, like racecar drivers, we all wore emblems of sponsorship. Some of us would have more such patches than others, although I would hope that we’d all have a patch acknowledging our parents (“Mom. Dad. Since 1954.”); a favorite teacher or coach (“Teached me wat I know!”); perhaps our places of business (“Self-Employed & Lovin’ It”). To these patches I – personally – will now add a big one: “Audible.com. Sponsor Since 2015”. Yes indeed, Audible has taken on the sponsorship of “Scandalous Overtures” and I couldn’t be more pleased. Since the great majority of the 26 courses I’ve made for The Great Courses are available on Audible, this sponsorship is perfect, as in one fell swoop (swell foop?) it promotes my two favorite media organizations, Ora TV and The Great Courses. I wrote and recorded some 16 Audible ads last week. Check out the one below, which features a FREE (such a lovely and, when it comes to worthwhile stuff, underused word) audiobook promotion. audible.com/scandalous Continue Reading