On Music: Ferdinand Ries


If you've never heard a recording made by the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, or, even more importantly, any music by composer Ferdinand Ries, you've been seriously deprived. Check out this wild, animated, musical roller coaster ride I found recently in which the end of Ries' second symphony is used to underscore one of the best bits of notation animation I've ever come across.

Ries was a piano student of Beethoven's. In fact, he premiered some of Beethoven's pieces and worked as a copyist for the more famous composer. Like Beethoven, Ries had handicaps to overcome (he wasn't deaf, but he was blind in one eye), and like Beethoven, Ries is best known for his many symphonies (eight altogether, vis-à-vis Beethoven's nine).

His Symphony No. 2 in C minor, op. 80, is in the standard four movements: Allegro Ma Non Troppo, Andantino, Menuetto Allegretto, and the fantastic Allegro Ma Non Troppo, which you can hear in the above video. The video is actually an ad for the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, and most likely ran on TV in Switzerland (is my hunch "“ because Europeans take great pride in their orchestras and it's not uncommon for conductors and musicians to be treated like rock stars over there.) If you want to check out another great Ries symphony, I recommend the Zurich Chamber Orchestra's recording of his 5th, which you can sample here.