In this clip from www.artistshousemusic.org – Susan McClary, Professor of Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles, makes a forceful case for the importance of understanding the context in which a piece of music was written, as a prerequisite for understanding the music itself. She uses as an example Beethovens Ninth Symphony, and its slow evolution in Western culture as an un-performable mess to one of the greatest works of all time.