Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Beethoven's 5th and Morse Code


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It's probably a safe bet that Ludwig von Beethoven didn't know from Adam about the Morse Code during the years between 1804 through 1809 when he wrote his Symphony No. 5. That's because this international code wasn't adopted until sometime in the 1890s.

But the first four notes heard over the BBC during World War II would bring the Brits to a standstill because it signaled the beginning of a broadcast with news about the war. Ironically, these notes by a German composer were equated with the "V" for victory in Morse Code. dot dot dot dash.



I enjoy listening to these while waging war on the Internet. This is a Telecast from March 22, 1952 at Carnegie Hall in New York City with Arturo Toscanini conducting.

21 comments:

  1. Love that piece and the opening notes might as well serve as the anthem to Western Civilization.

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  2. BB: I'm afraid you have a point there. :-(

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  3. It was also a signal to occupied Europe that coded messages were about to be broadcast to, for instance, the French resistance around the time of D-Day.

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  4. Holte: Actually, I had heard that years and years ago and I was really looking for info about the 5th being used by the underground. But the only thing I came up with was the connection to the BBC broadcasts, so I just went with it.

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  5. I learn something new every day! Great JKG quote at the top of PP.

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  6. Holte Ender wrote: "It was also a signal to occupied Europe that coded messages were about to be broadcast to, for instance, the French resistance around the time of D-Day."

    Exactly — that's what the first video in the post is about, "John has a long mustache." It's a really well done little production, IMO. Great find, tnlib.

    BTW, Hitler was said to be quite a fan of Wagner, Die Valkyrie in particular. ("In Norse mythology, a valkyrie (from Old Norse valkyrja "chooser of the slain") is one of a host of female figures who decide who will die in battle.)

    Interesting contrast in favored music between leaders and peoples there, I think.

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  7. Maybe that's why I've never cared that much for Wagner!

    One of my mom's good friends was from Germany. As people were paying their respects after mom died, the friend invited us to stop by later on. When she walked away she said not to forget the Wagner. I thought she was saying not to forget the Vodka, which at that point I much preferred.

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  8. Nice post. I'm one of the few hundred thousand folks in the US still using the code on the air for various reasons, of which one is nostalgia. (It also gets through when nothing else will.) Anyone my age and older still remembers the dramatic dididi DA ( which is the way it's been vocalized for the last hundred years) but I guess everything is forgotten eventually and even Winston Churchill's V for Victory hand gesture is now called "the peace sign" by those who don't remember. Seems that everyone is so disturbingly young these days -- I wonder why that is.

    As for Wagner and his loathsome anti-Sematism and grotesque mythology; I don't much like him either nor did his erstwhile friend Fred Nietzsche - and for that reason.

    And thanks for the Toscanini version -- still the definitive one to me since I grew up on it. Modern conductors seem to play it too slow!

    SK and 73 ( as we say in Morse )

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  9. Capt. Fogg: "Seems that everyone is so disturbingly young these days -- I wonder why that is." Weren't us hippies using it as a peace sign back in the 60s? Ahh, I bet you're too young to remember those good old days.

    Interestingly, I read an article about five of the most well known conducters who have conducted the 5th. Toscanini wasn't even mentioned, which totally blew my mind. Must have been written by one of those under 30 young'uns.

    Have no clue what SK and 73 means. Over and Out?

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  10. That should have been "we hippies" - not "us hippies."

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  11. Re: too young.

    Today, on one of the morning television shows, a reporter gave a quick history of bluejeans. She said it all began with Levis 501!!!!! It guess the dawn of history was somewhere around 1980. Who knew?

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    1. I'd say "me" but I'd be nailed, rightly, for grammatical incontinence. I knew. I'm 65. Serge de Nîmes. Denim.

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  12. Here's a brief history.

    http://inventors.about.com/od/sstartinventors/a/Levi_Strauss.htm

    They moved from being just work clothes when Levi, Lee and Wrangler started making them around 1873 to fashion wear sometime in the 50s.

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  13. I loved this!!! Beethoven is one of my favs!!! And no, I'm not fond of Wagner either!!!

    I wasn't a hippie but I tried -- sorta. The joke among my real hippie friends was that even when I tried to look like a hippie I still looked like mom, apple pie and the flag and my nickname was Styrene Irene the plastic hippie. Sigh, Then again, they also realized that I was probably more radical than they were -- I just wanted to win by subversion and infiltration -- not revolution. :)

    They all sold out and became yuppies and/or conservatives while I stayed my course and am still fighting.

    Thanks for a great post!

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  14. Very interesting, Leslie!
    BTW: I have moved THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST over to wordpress.com. Its new address is http://jackjodell53.wordpress.com/. Thanks for your continued patronage, and I hope too see you there again real soon! :-)

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  15. Kay: Not all hippies have sold out. See
    http://www.worldwidehippies.com/

    Jack. Congrats and good luck on this. I've been considering doing the same thing.

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  16. I guess that for me there will never be conductors as great as Arturo Toscannini and Leonard Bernstein. I loved this recording of Beethoven's Fifth and am putting it in my ITunes file.

    I don't even care for Wagner's music and won't listen to it because of the reasons stated above. Besides, Hitler thought he was the greatest. 'Nuff said.

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  17. Darlene: I also liked Bruno Walter. At least I certainly seemed to end up with a lot of LPs with him conducting!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYlXDw2EoTE

    Vodka over Wagner.

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  18. (First time commenter). A contemporary great conductor, as interesting to watch as Leonard Bernstein, is Neeme Jari, of Estonia. YouTube has him conducting Janeen Jansen et al in Mendelsohn's 2nd violin concerto. Unfortunately, he's already 70. My uncle taught me: "we accept truth no matter what the source". On that basis I do listen to Wagner, because some of his music is as great as it gets. Even Herber von Karajan belonged to the Nazi party, although he wasn't active in it, during the 30s and 40s. And another uncle taught me Morse code on his ham radio when I was a teenager. I have tried to keep it up, if only by writing private notes that I don't want my family nosing through. The Museum of War, in Ottawa, Canada, which is shaped like a battleship, has "porthole" windows at the top spelling out "Lest We Forget" in English and French. I can't help thinking that if there were a blackout and two people had flashlights, if they both knew Morse, they would be like "sighted people" in a world of the blind, since they could communicate with each other over a greater-than-shouting distance. Thank you for your original post, which I found most interesting.

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    1. And I yours. Thanks for topping by and adding to my small collection of intriguing facts.

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