Celebrating Beethoven's "Greatest Concert Ever"

I turn regularly to Huffington Post for liberal-leaning political blogging along with a small dash of pop culture. But occasionally the homepage features a special treat: somebody writing about classical music as if it belonged on a mainstream site like HuffPo!

Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher, and the author of a book on Iraq and the Media, celebrates the Vienna concert given by a 38-year-old Beethoven two hundred years ago today.

Fellow geezers: Forget the Beatles at Shea Stadium, Dylan in Manchester, the Stones at Altamont, Springsteen at the Bottom Line (I was even there) — and you youngsters pick your fave from the past three decades. On December 22, 1808, Beethoven himself rented a hall in Vienna and promoted the concert to end all concerts: the debut, over four hours, of three of the greatest works in the history of music: his Fifth Symphony, the Sixth (“Pastoral”) Symphony, and the astounding Piano Concerto No. 4, plus the wonderful Choral Fantasia (forerunner to his Ninth Symphony). And yes, it was a fiasco.

But imagine: It was as if Orson Welles premiered Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Touch of Evil on the same night — with The Lady from Shanghai thrown in for good measure.

This was mid-period Beethoven. He was 38 at the time and would live another 19 fitful years.