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Post details: Barack vs Hillary

Barack vs Hillary

I think that experience is overrated.

For examples, we need to look no further than in the works of one Ludwig van Beethoven. He composed more than a hundred pieces in his lifetime, but let's take a look at just three pairs. They were not chosen randomly - in all of these the former sports more ardor and the latter more experience.

Leonore 2 vs Leonore 3
Piano Concerto 4 vs Piano Concerto 5
Symphony 3 vs Symphony 5

Nowhere can the maturing process be seen as clearly as in overtures to his only opera Fidelio/Leonore, of which he wrote four. Leonore 3 is really but a polished redaction of Leonore 2 and it shares most of its motifs with it. Its edges had been smoothed out, its orchestration expanded, its thematical texture pruned. That's all dandy, but a discerning ear will notice that the revision lacks some of the previous version's features: the formative heat of the forge, the mad rush of freshly born ideas, and there are fewer enchanted repetitions where the composers gets subconsciously intoxicated with his own creations.

Piano concerto No. 4 is like a white water creek - you can almost spot the rainbow trouts in the flow of its music. Its chords cascade down the keyboard with the playfulness of a mountain stream. Piano concerto No. 5 is much more like a meandering waterway. The ripples on its body are more majestic, but also a bit more premeditated. And there is a notable difference in the clarity of waters. If the Fourth was a river, I'd have no problem drinking from its crystal clear pools. The Fifth, however magnificent it is, doesn't possess that uncorrupted glitter of its younger brother, succumbing to the fate of all rivers: the longer they stay on the surface, the murkier they get.

Beethoven's Third symphony, Eroica, is one of the most revolutionary musical pieces of all times. No wonder the Viennese critics labeled it "the music for horses" after its premiere. I can only imagine how utterly horrified the musical establishment must have been when Beethoven abandoned the well manicured park paths of Mozart and Haydn and marched triumphantly through the gates of his own world. And being the Beethoven he was, he didn't enter it with a polite "excuse me", but rather with a resounding bang of his fists. In less than 50 minutes he charted out the course of musical history for the next one hundred years. He became the rebel.

There is a difference in tone between the Third and the Fifth: Eroica is like a war correspondent's letter from the battle front, while the Fifth is more like a well written memoir of a Vietnam vet. Where the Fifth imagines and reminisces, Eroica rouses and hollers. You can hear the field bugles, the confused and a syncopated racket of soldiers falling head over heels at the sound of alarm, the eagerness radiating from its every measure. And the inclusion of a funeral march (Marcia funebre) in lieu of the slow movement is an apostasy of its own. If you'd expect a muted sobfest, you'd be so wrong - there is no sniffling in Eroica, only clenched fists in the pockets and a promise that there will be consequences. The Fifth symphony was certainly written by a more experienced hand, but it lost the devastating impact of a youthful army embroiled in an unstoppable insurrection.

I noticed over the years that in all of the above pairs the concert goers seem to prefer the latter pieces. I guess they appreciate their well measured technical brilliance. But I miss the authenticity and brutal straightforwardness of their earlier brethren. That is why I would choose Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton any day. New blood over experience. Especially, when "being ready on day one" really means resuming business as usual.


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