"Beethoven’s Ninth, Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, or the Beatles’ White Album"

Examples of “Dionysian” art which, according to Franz, are irresistibly apt to make one “drunk.”

The first is perhaps the most famous orchestral work of all time: the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, whose fourth movement includes the choral “Ode to Joy”, based on a text from the German poet Friedrich Schiller. Beethoven worked on the Ninth between 1818 and 1824, and it has since become wildly popular all over the world. Sony vice-president Norio Ohga, who had studied at the conservatory in Berlin, declared that the playing time of the compact disc, in development by Phillips engineers in 1979, had to be long enough to carry the longest-known recording of the Ninth -- a 74-minute version recorded by the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1951 and conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler. (Most versions tend to run closer to 65 minutes.)

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Below, Leonard Bernstein discusses the "Ode to Joy" section of Beethoven's Ninth, then conducts the Vienna Philharmonic, in 1989:



Bartók in 1927
Public DomainBartók in 1927

The Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion by Béla Viktor János Bartók (1881-1945) is not nearly as famous as Beethoven’s Ninth, and perhaps not even as well-known as some of Bartók’s other works, such as The Miraculous Mandarin Suite, Romanian Folk Dances, or Mikrokosmos. But it has been one of his most-performed works since its premiere in 1937.

It requires two pianists and two percussionists, who play seven instruments between them: timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, snare drum (both on- and off-snares), tam-tam (gong) and xylophone.

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The White Album is the familiar name for an untitled 1968 double-LP recording by the British rock-pop band, The Beatles. It was a looser, more eclectic, more individualistic or atomized work than its predecessor, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the group’s first album on its own label, Apple. It is still regarded as one of the greatest albums in rock history, and includes such cuts as “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Blackbird,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Helter Skelter,” “Rocky Raccoon,” and “Dear Prudence.”