Some people reckon that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a brilliant composition. But I spotted three double-bass players vigorously exercising their upper extremities in its last movement at a concert by our local amateur orchestra, and thought they might disagree…
The players of the double bass, as they play Beethoven Nine,
Zip up and down their fingerboards so fast they’ll make them shine.
Such acrobatic movements, though, are rare: their repertoire
Is mainly backing up the rhythm in the bass clef, bar by bar.
I wonder if old Ludwig thought, as he penned Op. 125
“Those lazy blokes on double bass – I’ll make them come alive!
I’ll give them notes so widely spaced, so fast, they’ll have to grease
Their fingers with a tub of lard to play my masterpiece!”
Or maybe he was unaware how tricky it would be?
He didn’t play the double bass, so he could not foresee
How scattering notes across the stave was going to appal
Those fine upstanding fellows with their backs against the wall.
But hey, just look at them! They’re coping pretty well
(Although there’s so much going on, it’s difficult to tell).
But their efforts would have pleased him, if he could but have heard,
For deafness meant he scarcely caught a single note or word.