Beethoven, a 1st-String Composer

Article excerpt

No matter how indifferent to classical music you might be, chances are good that you can whistle or hum at least one symphonic passage: the first four notes from Ludwig Van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

The Beatles notwithstanding, that famous four-note passage remains the most famous lick ever to arise from the European continent.

Although 169 years have passed since his death, Beethoven continues to be the world's most popular symphonist. The German composer, who lived from 1770-1827, also set standards in other musical formats, as well, including that of the string quartet.

In a program titled "Beethoven Unplugged," to be presented this Sunday evening in Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville's new music annex, the Quartet Seraphim, with help from actor Chris Limber, intends to demonstrate why.

"Beethoven's string quartets are about the highest level of music that you could have the privilege of being able to perform," Quartet Seraphim violinist Rose Martin said during a recent conversation.

"The amazing thing is that all the quartets, even the early ones, were written when Beethoven was, to a certain degree, deaf," the violinist added. "That's an issue that we get into, in `Beethoven Unplugged': How it's possible to create music without being able to actually hear it."

Chris Limber appears both as a contemporary actor and as Beethoven, in the production. …