The Well-Tempered Ear

Beethoven helps LeBron James break a big basketball scoring record

February 5, 2023

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By Jacob Stockinger

Sometime this coming week — maybe even by the time you read this — basketball superstar LeBron James (below) will break the all-time scoring record for the NBA.

The current record of 38,387 points is held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (known earlier in his career as Lew Alcindor) who he broke the previous record held by Wilt Chamberlain on April 5, 1984. Abdul-Jabbar, who is famous for his “skyhook,” retired at 42 in 1989 and is now 75.

At 38, James — who is just 63 points away from the record as of this writing — still has many years to play and score. 

Based on what the James (below, in action)  — who is also the first player to become a billionaire while playing in the NBA — usually scores each game, professional sports watchers expect he will surpass Abdul-Jabbar at a game against the Milwaukee Bucks this coming Thursday night, Feb. 9, in Milwaukee.

When he does, you will no doubt hear about it. It will be big news since the previous NBA scoring record has lasted for almost 34 years.

James, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, is known as a very disciplined, even obsessive, player who even follows a special diet to stay in shape.

What’s more, according to reports, James  — who took his first piano lesson from  the famous Chinese pianist Lang Lang — also listens to classical music. He especially likes to listen to Beethoven (below) after he listens to hip-hop while in the weight room, and then leaves to get ready and “calm down” before a game and heading out to the court.

Here is a link to that story on ClassicFM:

What Beethoven pieces do you think LeBron James listens to in order to calm down before a game? Symphonies? Concertos? Chamber music? A lot of Beethoven seems more aggressive than relaxing to The Ear. But the slow middle movement of the Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” (played by Lang Lang in the YouTube video at the bottom) seems like a good choice.

Maybe James will even somehow read this and let us know his favorite works by Beethoven and other classical composers.

Do any other readers or athletes listen to classical music as part of their athletic training, preparation and activity? Do a lot of the runners who are listening to something through ear buds listen too classical music?

The Ear wants to hear.

Classical music: What does John Cage’s music mean and how should we listen to it as Madison twice marks the centennial of the American composer? Check out these stories from The New York Times and NPR.

September 7, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

Can it really be 100 years already?

The Ear finds it curious and unexpectedly welcome that the new concert season will open with two different tributes to the rarely performed avant-garde American composer John Cage, whose birth centennial is being celebrated this year.

This Sunday night at 7 p.m. in the Anderson Auditorium, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, the music faculty of Edgewood College (below) will celebrate the iconoclastic composer with a FREE concert.

Featured on the performance are Kathleen Otterson, Nathan Wysock, Todd Hammes, Blake Walter, Julie Dunbar, and Bernie Brink, with a special guest appearance by Clocks in Motion. Included on the program are Cage’s “Radio Music,” “Child of Tree,” “Third Construction in Metal,” and “The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs,” among other works.

Then on Monday night, at 8 p.m., in Morphy Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, guest performers Iktus Percussion (below) will also mark the Cage centennial with a FREE concert.

It is a brave and creative step for the generally conservative Catholic college, and  even for a mainstream music school, to take.

In fact, it is worthy of Cage himself (below) – the life partner of and longtime collaborator with famed dancer Merce Cunningham — who deserves a lot more than the derision his famous (or infamous) 4’33” piano piece that emphasizes silence and environmental sound deserves.

Like Charles Ives, Cage seems quintessentially American as a pioneer of environmental music, the artistic use of silence and the prepared piano in defining alternative or counter-cultural classical music.  He knew what he was doing and could be quite articulate about his artistic goals and methods (at  bottom).

And speaking of Cage, a good friend of The Ear recently sent along this terrific and insightful appreciation of Cage and his music, and how it relates to anxiety in general and specifically Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, from The New York Times.

Perhaps it will excite you enough to attend the Edgewood and UW concerts. Applause could even be, appropriately enough to honor the Zen-like composer, the sound of one hand clapping.

And here is a link to two excellent essay on “Sound and Silence: Five Ways of Understanding John Cage” and “33 Musicians on What John Cage Communicates” that appeared on NPR’s superb classical blog “Deceptive Cadence.” It, too, might inspire attendance as well as understanding:

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