Beethoven Was Wrong

Beethoven Was Wrong


BWW is a radio show about living composers at UK universities. Each week we visit a different music department and listen to pieces by staff and students, creating a musical map of the UK’s institutions. It was broadcast on Resonance FM in the summer of 2015.

Website & episodes available here:

“With Beethoven the parts of a composition were defined by means of harmony.  With Satie […] they were defined by means of time-lengths.  The question of structure is so basic, and it is so important to be in agreement about it, that we must now ask: Was Beethoven right or […] Satie?  I answer immediately and unequivocally, Beethoven was in error, and his influence, which has been extensive as it is lamentable, has been deadening to the art of music.”
John Cage, “Defense of Satie,” in John Cage, ed. Richard Kostelanetz (New York: Praeger, 1970):81.

Now, here at BWW we don’t actually think that Beethoven was wrong. However, the above quote by John Cage says a lot about the world in which contemporary composers find themselves. With access to scholarship and recorded music from all over history and the world, how do our institutions stay in the vanguard of musical expression? How do composers react to the twenty-first century? BWW offers listeners a glimpse into the fascinating world of the university music department and the work of living composers.

The title of the show has been taken from chapter fourteen of the excellent book The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross.

BWW is written & presented by Daniel James Ross, lecturer at Morley College & PhD music composition candidate at Goldsmiths.

If you have any comments or questions then you can get in touch via the email address:


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