What Makes Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 Great? And What Makes It Similar To... Justin Bieber?

Download Audio
Composer, conductor and commentator Rob Kapilow visits WBUR. (Joe Difazio/WBUR)
Composer, conductor and commentator Rob Kapilow visits WBUR. (Joe Difazio/WBUR)

One might argue that Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 is about as classical as classical music gets. And, this weekend, conductor, composer, commentator and author Rob Kapilow will be breaking down just what makes this composition great at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall.

The show is part of Kapilow's "What Makes it Great" series, where he unveils, note by note, the hidden majesty within beautiful pieces of music.

And part of what makes "What Makes it Great" great is its unpretentious nature. In fact, Rob Kapilow wanted to start this conversation, not with Beethoven, but with none other than Justin Bieber.

Rob Kapilow will be breaking down Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 Sunday as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston at NEC's Jordan Hall.


Rob Kapilow, conductor, composer, commentator and author, most recently of "What Makes it Great? Short Masterpieces, Great Composers." He's creator of the performance series "What Makes it Great." He tweets @RobKapilow.


Radio Boston: Rob Kapilow On ‘What Makes It Great’

  • "What makes it great is Rob Kapilow’s passion for helping us learn and understand the difference between casually listening to music and really hearing it."

PBS NewsHour: Happy Birthday, Mozart! How This Musical Genius Summed Up The Universe In Three Notes

  • "Whenever you think of musical prodigy, who do you think of but Mozart? Writing simple keyboard pieces at 5, violin sonatas and orchestral music at 6 and 7, first symphony at 9. It’s really disgusting, if you’re a composer like me. You just don’t even want to think about Mozart’s birthday."

WBUR: Another Take On The 'Appoggiatura'

  • "In a segment on Tuesday, we explained how a musical device called an appoggiatura can cause a reaction in people's brains that is instrumental in making a song sad. We pointed to the Adele song "Someone Like You" as an example. Some listeners say we got it wrong, so Melissa Block talks with composer, conductor and music commentator Rob Kapilow to set the record straight."

This segment aired on March 3, 2016.


More from Radio Boston

Listen Live