A visitor to the 39-year-old composer’s Vienna apartment described Beethoven’s personal habits in notoriously disparaging detail—a picture curiously contrasting with the same reporter’s observations of his fastidious attention to his favorite beverage.
“For breakfast he had coffee, which he usually prepared himself in a glass machine. Coffee seems to have been his most indispensable food, which he prepared as scrupulously as the Turks. Sixty beans were calculated per cup and were often counted, especially when guests were present.”
This according to “Beethoven’s 60 coffee beans” by Leonardo Ciampa (The American organist LII/3 [March 2018] pp. 50-51).
Below, a highly caffeinated performance by Peter Schickele.
When Jason Mraz bought a 5½-acre ranch northeast of San Diego in 2004, he thought it would be “a place to be isolated when you have a crazy life.” The densely packed property is planted mostly with avocados, along with Meyer lemons, pomegranates, guavas, and mangoes.
In his early performing days Mraz had regularly subsisted on fast food, soda, and cigarettes, but as he began to tour he realized that a better regimen was essential to maintaining his health, and in 2008 “we decided to bring a chef out on tour with us for 30 days and go vegetarian and raw to see what would happen. And I mean, a dramatic transformation. Not just in weight loss, but in overall health and energy.”
Mraz became a dedicated locavore, and an avid cultivator and consumer of his avocados and other crops. “The first time I was served a big chunk of avocado on my salad, I didn’t know what to do with it. Now I’m among them all the time, experimenting with them, making meals and adding spices and whatnot. You know, your palate evolves.”
This according to “The accidental avocado farmer” by Jim Romanoff (Eating well XIV/1 [January–February 2015] pp. 88–94).
Today is Mraz’s 40th birthday! Below, performing Back to the earth at his avocado ranch.
Can it be a mere coincidence that in many English dictionaries the words mushroom and music are right next to each other? Points of contact between mushrooms and new music go beyond the figure of the self-proclaimed mushroom-lover John Cage.
One fundamental similarity is the fact that both exist in marginal social zones whose inhabitants are often dismissed as other-worldly weirdos. In the early 21st century there is only a difference in degree between the social acceptability of composers and woodland gnomes.
This according to “‘After all, nature is better than art’: Exkursionen ins verborgene Verhältnis von Pilzen und (neuer) Musik” by Dirk Wieschollek (Neue Zeitschrift für Musik CLXXIII/1  pp. 32–37).
Above, Morchella (morel), a favorite of Mr. Cage. Below, Václav Hálek composed over 1000 works referencing different varieties of mushrooms.
Musique concrète has evolved a great deal since its beginnings in the late 1940s; experiments with musique concrète that are presently occurring within the world of electronic dance music (EDM) and other musical genres are quite different from Pierre Schaeffer’s original work.
In 2013 Brian Speise was composing credits music for a short zombie film and thought that the project would be perfect for experimenting with musique concrète. This was not a work of dance music at all, but it had elements of electronic music that producers of EDM can appreciate. Balloons and a grapefruit were brought into play.
This according to Mr. Speise’s “From grapefruit to plastic surgery: Experiments in contemporary musique concrete” (Dancecult VI/1 ).
Above, the author records a grapefruit peel with a contact microphone; you can hear the sound here.
If you plan to welcome the new year with a ritual libation, you might consider whether subliminal factors are at play.
In an experiment, French and German music was played on alternate days from an in-store display of French and German wines over a 2-week period. French music led to French wines outselling German ones, whereas German music led to the opposite effect on sales of French wine.
Responses to a questionnaire suggested that customers were unaware of these effects of music on their product choices. The results may be discussed in terms of their theoretical implications for research on music and consumer behavior and their ethical implications for the use of in-store music.
This according to “The influence of in-store music on wine selections” by Adrian C. North, David J, Hargreaves, and Jennifer McKendrick (Journal of applied psychology LXXXIV/2 [April 1999] pp. 271–76).
Below, what would you pair with the German-born French composer Jacques Offenbach’s Glou! Glou! Je suis le vin (Glug! Glug! I am the wine)?
Gamelunch is a sonically augmented dining table that exploits the power and flexibility of physically-based sound models towards the investigation of the closed loop between interaction, sound, and emotion.
Continuous interaction gestures are captured by means of contact microphones and various force transducers, providing data that are coherently mapped onto physically-based sound synthesis algorithms. While performing usual dining movements, the user encounters contradicting and unexpected sound feedback, thus experiencing the importance of sound in the actions of everyday life.
This according to “Gamelunch: A physics-based sonic dining table” by Stefano Delle Monache, Pietro Polotti, Stefano Papetti, and Davide Rocchesso, a paper included in Proceedings of the 33rd International Computer Music Conference (San Francisco: International Computer Music Association, 2007, pp. 41–44).
Above and below, Gamelunch in action.
Some pop stars are remembered for their music, some for their style; but Elvis Presley may be the only one who’s also remembered for a peanut butter sandwich—not just any peanut butter sandwich, but one that adds bananas and sometimes bacon to the mix and is typically pan-fried or finished on a griddle.
The Elvis actually predates Elvis Presley. Indeed, the sandwich has its roots in what the food blogger Tina the Mom describes as “Southern po’ folks cuisine”. It seems as if every celebrity chef now offers a recipe for it, and in a food world that can never leave well enough alone there’s been a push to reinvent the sandwich in myriad ways.
What’s behind the fascination with this dense mess of comfort food? It begins with the fact that Presley, despite his royal status, always retained a fondness for the simple things in life. Then again, the Elvis isn’t quite so simple, and its over-the-top aspect is perhaps key to the appreciation of both man and sandwich.
This according to “Celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday with a sandwich fit for a king” by Charles Passy (Speakeasy 8 January 2014).
Below, the King recommends milk with that.
Related article: Is peanut butter healthy? Here’s what you need to know
Beethoven’s conversation books indicate that he particularly liked pasta with parmesan cheese and salami.
He also liked veal, beef, liver, chicken, oysters, fish, spinach, fruit, cream, sugar, soup, eggs, very strong coffee and, last but not least, wine. He didn’t like pork and he was not really fond of beer.
This according to Die gute Kocherey: Aus Beethovens Speiseplänen by Martella Gutiérrez-Denhoff (Bonn: Beethoven-Haus, 1988); the book includes several recipies.
Below, a chance to enjoy Beethoven’s music with some street food.
The holdings of the Bachhaus in Eisenach include a polished goblet that was presented to J.S. Bach around 1735; the word VIVAT inscribed on it was meant as an invitation to enjoy a glass of wine.
Sources including letters, pay slips, stipends, and the 1750 catalog of his estate suggest that Bach’s life was sometimes cheerfully informal. The table of this choral street-singer, organist, cantor, court musician, and municipal music director—whose salary as an employee was, throughout his life, paid not only in money but also in kind (grain, fish, beer, wine, wood)—was abundantly set for his large family and for the many welcome guests, and his comfortable standard of living was provided for on a corresponding scale.
This according to Zu Tisch bei Johann Sebastian Bach: Einnahmen und “Consumtionen” einer Musikerfamilie by Walter Salmen (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2009).
Below, Bach’s jovial Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet (“Bauernkantate”), BWV #212, which includes the encouraging words “Wave if you’re thirsty!”