Last week I mentioned that an online exhibit of Beethoven’s work that has been featured in Charles Schulz’ Peanuts was going to launch and today, Beethoven’s birthday, the site is now live. The exhibit features 60 or so Peanuts cartoons where Schroeder is playing Beethoven and the musical notes above the piano are actual music from Beethoven.
Surprisingly, Schulz could not read music. He was, however, committed to copying the scores as accurately as possible. Occasionally, errors such as missing accidentals or extra ledger lines crept in.
One of Schulz’s great inspirations was to show the passage of time by using music from different spots in a single movement or from using music from two different movements. In a Sunday strip published on February 24, 1963, for instance, Lucy is listening to Schroeder play the first movement of the Sonata in F Minor, Opus 2, no. 1, in the first panel (mm. 119-20). In the second or third panels Schroeder has advanced to the second movement (mm. 3-5). The music from the first movement is about one minute from the end of the 7 1/2 minute piece. The music from the second panel starts at 10 seconds into the movement.
Meredith also discovered how extensively Schroeder knew Beethoven’s piano sonatas and other works. Here is a list of the works he plays in strips over the years from memory (he never plays from a music score). Eleven of the 32 sonatas, which is not at all bad for an eight-year-old!