Beethoven

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

The piano wasn't fancy, and the acoustics were bad. But a performance of Beethoven's "Für Elise" at a Prague airport is drawing rave reviews. The impromptu concert was put on by a traveler who brightened the mood in a departure lounge and earned applause by taking on the classic in a variety of styles.

As Beethoven set about composing his Third Symphony, his hearing was failing and he felt certain his life was about to get worse. That it was born in a moment of despair may help explain why the finished work, for all its grandeur, is extremely odd — employing devices that are by turns aggressive and mundane, somber and practically danceable.

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