Why is the playing time of a CD 74 minutes 42 seconds?

“Because its Japanese developers were determined that it be stretched long enough to contain Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a huge seller in Japan” From Thunder in the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia, an interesting book I have a feeling I’ll be quoting more from.

Of course, that answer just prompts another question, which is “Why is Beethoven’s Ninth so popular in Japan?”

Here are some possible answers?

1. “It’s a mystery even for the Japanese why it’s so popular,” Suzuki said. “I think a lot of people in Japan sympathize with Beethoven. He was not a happy person, in constant agony, and that attracts people.”

2. “I’ve heard a lot of theories,” said Kerry Candaele, who is making a documentary on the cultural influence of the Ninth around the world. “Someone told me that it’s the only time that Japanese women are allowed to scream.

“But I think it really has to do with a coming together as equals, of climbing this musical mountain together. In a way, it represents a kind of utopianism.”

Both from this article in the LA Times

Personally, I just think it’s the connection to the New Year. That, of course, poses another question…

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3 Comments

  1. September 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    The CD length thing totally smacks of urban legend…can that possibly be true?

  2. September 24, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    http://www.ferguscassidy.ie/ethos-23-Oct-2005.html
    I guess it’s more or less true. Well, then.

  3. September 24, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Oh, one more thing: http://www.springerlink.com/content/q3jp0g84460pp314/

    I hope someone out there has compared the per capita number of performances of Beethoven’s Ninth in Japan to performances of Handel’s Messiah in the US. Otherwise I’ll be over here rolling my eyes a lot as explanations about Japan’s unique love of amateurism and collectivism are rolled out. (I know several people who participate in Messiah performances.)


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