Musical Gifts on Beethoven's Birthday
    by John Cech

You're hearing the concluding section of the first movement of Ludwig von Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony, played by Robert LaFond and his orchestra on their CD, Snoopy's Classiks on Toys. It's a remarkably serious and at the same time wonderfully liberating treatment of this thundering war horse from the classical repetoire.

It's Beethoven's birthday this weekend, and I think the notoriously temperamental composer would be pleased to know that his work has become one of the audio staples of the contemporary nursery. Beethoven himself might have objected to his being considered merely a part of what's come to be called the Mozart Effect which advocates playing classical music for children because it is thought to stimulate mental development. Children, one researcher found, will even pull a string attached to their foot if they know that they'll be rewarded for the effort with classical music. I'd certainly be pulling on my ankle, too, if I knew I could hear this, from the CD "Build Your Baby's Brain Through the Power of Beethoven":

Another new series, on the Wee Are Young label, offers "Smart Sleep and Smart Play With Classics" CD's -- the latter makes use of Beethoven's rollicking "Rage Over a Lost Penny" with its inexhaustible theme and variations:

We've certainly come a long way from regarding classical music as something that belongs to only an elite. Now we are embracing this music in all its joyful variety. And Beethoven certainly has an ode to that.

Copyright 2001 by John Cech

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Wednesday, 04-Sep-2002 22:25:03 EDT

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for the Study of Children's Literature and Media and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."