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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

More questions for ALICE McVEIGH,
classical music's agony aunt

DEAR ALICE, THERES THIS GUY WHO GOES TO MY SCHOOL AND I REALLY LIKE HIM. BUT I DONT KNOW HOW TO TALK TO HIM ANYMORE WITHOUT ACTING LIKE AN IDIOT. PLEASE HELP ME.
(Name withheld)

Dear anon,

It is a tragic truth (universally acknowledged) that the best way to talk to a guy you really like is completely naturally, that is: as if you don't fancy him; and that this becomes progressively more difficult the more you actually do. I sense that you have figured this out already. So you know what you have to do: talk about matters of mutual interest (your school football team/debating society etc) in a light and witty tone, the only trouble being that you can't do it. You find yourself getting tongue-tied, and almost wishing he'd talk to someone else, just in order to relieve the nervous and tedious strain of trying to be so bloody delightful. (Oh, how it all comes back!!!!! And oh how I wish it wouldn't!!!!)

However, I can tell you, from my (estimated) roughly nine million more years of experience than you've got, that you are already in possession of absolutely all you need to make this guy like you, which is (and I am giving away no secrets here) that you like him. That's it. That's the whole trick, end of story, fade-out ... He may even be suffering the same secret agonies as you are, about being his most enchanting self with people he isn't really all that bothered about. So figure out what he's interested in (other than girls, which is a cert, at his age, as long as he's not actually gay) and try talking to him about that, in as casual a way as you can muster, but giving things away that he can tease you about at the same time. Once you start teasing each other, you've cracked the code; you're a master of flirtation; and you'll never be tongue-tied again.

Yours, dead glad to be no longer teen-aged,
Alice

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

I don't know if you'll be able to answer my question, but, how many pieces of music got heard that Beethoven and Mozart have written, not together, but by themselves. If you have any other rare info about Mozart and/or Beethoven, please, let me know, because i can't sem to find any.=) Ashley

Dear Ashley, wherever you may be,

Your question puzzled me more than a little, and the longer I consider it the more I think that no one on earth could possibly answer it, like the nature of evil, or Free Will. Indeed, it seems to me that you are groping around several different questions here:

a) how many pieces of music did Beethoven write

(compared with? combined with?)

b) how many pieces of music did Mozart write?

or (and follow me like a leopard here)

How many pieces of music have been (a) performed in concert or (b) recorded written by (a) Beethoven and/or (b) Mozart?

The good news on all these queries is that any reputable biography (or Grove's music dictionary) will be able to satisfy your curiosity. The bad news is that I can't be bothered doing it for you. All I am personally willing to venture, without considerably more dosh, is that Mozart wrote a hell of a lot more pieces than Beethoven: indeed he was capable of scribbling whole symphonic movements while on a coach trip of around two miles, or between the second course and dessert, whereas poor old Beethoven's notebooks are full of anguished (almost demented) worry over the ultimate destination of a single chord, which is probably why every description or picture we have shows him with furrowed brow and feverish expression.

But what really flummoxed me was the inference (if inference is the word I want) that M and B collaborated, which, if true, will shake the world of music to its foundations!!!!!!!!!!!!! You specify, of course, that you're only interested in the pieces they wrote separately, but I urge you instead to concentrate on your stunning new discovery: that Mozart and Beethoven actually worked together!!!!! And may I (without self-interest, natch) urge you to consider the epic music department at Goldsmiths the suitable depository for your epic find, whatever it is -- notwithstanding the fact that my husband works there?????

Yours in anxious anticipation,
Alice

Copyright © 3 September 2004 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK

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