Friday, May 17, 2013

Beethoven Bites Me

Years ago, when I was but a young lad and the digital format was new, I enrolled in the Time-Life Beethoven club. Each month they sent me two CDs of his music and each month I sent them a check. I was fairly new to classical music and knew that I liked what I had heard of Beethoven so I figured that they, being the experts, would sift through the classical world and would send me great recordings of some great pieces. And for the most part they did and I learned more and more about this form of music. But one day I received a letter that the Beethoven club was being discontinued. What? I had only received thirty-eight CDs and was missing a few piano sonatas and violin sonatas and whatnots. I had put in my time and my money thinking that I would eventually have a full set -o- Beethoven but it was not to be. Eventually I picked up a box set of piano sonatas and a few other important pieces and continued on my merry way.

It wasn't until only recently as I've been enjoying my stroll through classical lane that it dawned on me to use this here internets to find out more about the Time-Life series. It turns out that while the gang at Time-Life released a massive eighty-five record set on the bicentennial of of Beethoven's birth (creatively titled The Beethoven Bicentennial Collection) the current CD set only contained forty CDs. So what did I miss? His opera, Fidelio. Me and opera aren't on the best of terms (as I think the music usually takes a back seat so that those with Lead Singer Syndrome can showboat) so it was not big shakes.

Then I remembered that I still have all of the payment stubs for this series. Egads! Being the reformed packrat that I am these promptly went into the trash after being photographed. I should note that I also still had the very first pay stub (Symphonies 1 for the low introductory payment of $9.99! Plus shipping and handling) but I was not motivated enough to go back inside and intrude upon the kitchen where my wife was making dinner.

A couple of things I noted. First, they charged sales tax on shipping. That just ain't right! Second, I am a major dork. Third, I paid a whopping $476.34 for these CDs. This was the very late 80s so in today's moolah that's about $968, using the fictitious gubbermint inflation rate of 3% per year. WAS I INSANE?!?!?! Of course back in those days there was no Amazon where you could get the entire collection (and I mean just about every single little thing the man composed on paper, parchment or wallpaper) for a mere $104, even less when it's on sale. But still, it was money well spent, something I looked forward to each month and enjoyed. Well, usually enjoyed. Some of the music wasn't exactly Symphony #9 caliber but Beethoven on a bad day is better than Ratt on a good one.

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