Schulz and Schroeder

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Speaking of Peanuts, the NYT piece "Listening to Schroeder" (h/t: Russell Platt at The New Yorker) looks at the pint-sized pianist and notes that "musicologists and art curators have learned that there was much more than a punch line to Charles Schulz's invocation of Beethoven's music:"

"If you don't read music and you can't identify the music in the strips, then you lose out on some of the meaning," said William Meredith, the director of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University, who has studied hundreds of Beethoven-themed "Peanuts" strips.

When Schroeder pounded on his piano, his eyes clenched in a trance, the notes floating above his head were no random ink spots dropped into the key of G. Schulz carefully chose each snatch of music he drew and transcribed the notes from the score. More than an illustration, the music was a soundtrack to the strip, introducing the characters' state of emotion, prompting one of them to ask a question or punctuating an interaction.

"The music is a character in the strip as much as the people are, because the music sets the tone," Mr. Meredith said. To understand what gave Schroeder chills, he said, you have to listen to the musical passage. "When you actually hear the symphony, the whole thing feels completely different."

If I were in San Jose, I would so be at the Schulz Museum's exhibit.

update (1/18 @ 11:05pm):
I didn't feel quite right writing about an artist without showing some of his work, so--from the slideshow accompanying the article--here's Schroeder working out in preparation to play Beethoven's notoriously difficult Piano Sonata #29, The Hammerklavier:


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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 17, 2009 11:18 PM.

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