January 4th, 2020| Topic: RaMbLeS | 1


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) wrote some remarkable stuff, among them nine symphonies.

Apparently he had also begun working on the Tenth Symphony alongside his magnificent Ninth, with its epochal “Ode to Joy.” But quickly gave up on the former, leaving only a few notes and drafts, scribbling a few notes in notebook before he died, fragmentary sketches for the first movement of his Tenth.

Well, guess what?

Musicologists and computer programmers are working to complete Beethoven’s Tenth … using artificial intelligence!

Just in time for the 250th anniversary of his birth this year!

Said Christine Siegert, head of archives at the Beethoven House, in the maestro’s hometown, Bonn.

The progress has been impressive, even if the computer still has a lot to learn.”

The final result of the project will be performed by a full orchestra on April 28 in Bonn, a centerpiece of celebrations for a composer who defined the romantic era of classical music.

Admitted Dirk Kaftan, conductor of the Beethoven Orchestra, also based in Bonn, the ensemble that will perform the piece:

“It’s completely new territory. We musicians are in two minds about it.”

Not everyone is happy. Critics of the project are concerned about protecting Beethoven’s legacy. But Siegert insists the work would not affect the composer’s legacy because it would never be regarded as part of his oeuvre.

In the AI project, sponsored by Deutsche Telekom, machine-learning software was fed all of Beethoven’s works. “It” (or whatever you want to call the complex of machinery) is now composing a potential final version of the full symphony in the composer’s style.

Barry Cooper, a British composer and musicologist, professor at the University of Manchester, had himself tried his hand at completing the Tenth in 1988. It was even performed. But Cooper was dubious about the current enterprise.

I listened to a short excerpt that has been created. It did not sound remotely like a convincing reconstruction of what Beethoven intended. There is, however, scope for improvement with further work. In any performance of Beethoven’s music, there is a risk of distorting his intentions, especially in this case, where we have been left only fragmentary material.”

Some readers put in their $0.02 worth of disapproval online. Commented “DaisyM”:

There is a universal feeling of emotion which runs through [Beethoven’s] work like a great river flows, like the blood flows through our body …. This cannot be replicated by a computer.”

And “J” added:

AI is not some panacea of intelligence, it’s algorithmic totalitarianism.”

And Nik, more pragmatically:

Desperately silly. He croaked. Get over it!”

Yoda couldn’t resist a wisecrack:

It has to be done because Beethoven is no longer composing. He’s decomposing.”

Well, I gotta tell you, Jesus ain’t decomposing. And he calls us to compose the rest of “his life.” Which is God’s goal for us:

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.
Romans 8:29

This is an imitation of Jesus, in a sense, a constant growth in Christlikeness, a continuation of his life in us, here on earth.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:5

Be imitators … of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

You also became imitators … of the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:6

And so the symphony continues, community by community, person by person, and life by life, until Jesus returns again when …

… we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
1 John 3:2

Symphony completed. Perfectly. As the Master designed it. One day. Soon and very soon!



1 Comment

  1. marc January 4, 2020 at 11:43 pm

    Saturday January 4, 2020 10:30 PM Mountain Daylight Time

    Dr. Kuruvilla!

    I was blessed to meet you when I came down to Dallas Seminary for my graduation in 2017!
    I went looking for you at your office and was fortunate that you came down the stairs and I was able to meet you and shake your hand . Later you allowed me to have a graduation photo with you. You very graciously autographed a copy of your book A Vision for Preaching. and gifted it to me. You also kindly sat with myself and Mum at the DTS Texas 2017 graduation barbecue. I am also reading your book on MarK and it is a blessing and a revelation. I just want to let you know I’ve been tracking your sermons online for years and they are a blessing to me. I also have been praying for you and sending up sky telegrams—via email to the Lord Jesus—since 2017; you are on my permanent prayer list and I will continue to pray for you on a regular basis and send you those prayers. I sent you a Christmas card to your DTS office as a sign of respect and gratitude for the influence that God has had on me through you. Thank you.

    Stay well. Become what you believe.
    In Christ,
    Galatians 6:10


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