ludvig van beethoven
[Beethoven in 1818 by August Klöber]
adding page this day (via Maria):
Music develops in its own elect that power of concentration on an idea, that form of yoga, that is purely European, having the traits of action and domination that are characteristic of the West: for music is an edifice in motion, all the parts of which have to be sensed simultaneously. It demands of the soul a vertiginous movement in the immobile, the eye clear, the will taut, the spirit flying high and free over the whole field of dreams. In no other musician has the embrace of thought been more violent, more continuous, more superhuman
Rolland — who some years earlier had rallied the world’s greatest intellectuals, from Albert Einstein to Bertrand Russell to Jane Addams, to co-sign the Declaration of the Independence of the Mind — considers the independence of mind and spirit at the heart of Beethoven’s superhuman genius:
What humiliation when any one beside me heard a flute in the far distance, while I heard nothing, or when others heard a shepherd singing, and I still heard nothing! Such things brought me to the verge of desperation, and wellnigh caused me to put an end to my life. Art! art alone, deterred me. Ah! how could I possibly quit the world before bringing forth all that I felt it was my vocation to produce?
It was Virtue alone which sustained me in my misery; I have to thank her and Art for not having ended my life by suicide. Farewell! Love each other
his ninth and final symphony, known for reasons one feels in one’s bones as the “Ode to Joy,” which gives musical form to what Rolland so memorably called “the joy of suffering overcome.”
That rebellious refusal of Beethoven’s to resign himself to his fate i
Ludwig van Beethoven (/ˈlʊdvɪɡ væn ˈbeɪˌtoʊvən/, /ˈbeɪtˌhoʊvən/; German:[ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːtˌhoˑfn̩]; baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa solemnis, and one opera, Fidelio.
Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven displayed his musical talents at an early age and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and by composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe. At the age of 21 he moved to Vienna, where he began studying composition with Joseph Haydn, and gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. He lived in Vienna until his death. By his late 20s his hearing began to deteriorate, and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf. In 1811 he gave up conducting and performing in public but continued to compose; many of his most admired works come from these last 15 years of his life.
Beethoven is reported to have dated his hearing loss from a fit he suffered in 1798 induced by a rage at the interruption of his work—having fallen over, he got up to find himself deaf. His hearing only ever partially recovered and, during its gradual decline, was impeded by a severe form of tinnitus.
The cause of Beethoven’s deafness is unknown, but has variously been attributed to typhus, auto-immune disorders (such as systemic lupus erythematosus), and even his habit of immersing his head in cold water to stay awake. The explanation from Beethoven’s autopsy was that he had a “distended inner ear,” which developed lesions over tim
Beethoven, on the advice of his doctor, lived in the small Austrian town of Heiligenstadt, just outside Vienna, from April to October 1802 in an attempt to come to terms with his condition. There he wrote his Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter to his brothers which records his thoughts of suicide due to his growing deafness and records his resolution to continue living for and through his art.
Beethoven’s personal life was troubled by his encroaching deafness and irritability brought on by chronic abdominal pain (beginning in his twenties) which led him to contemplate suicide (documented in his Heiligenstadt Testament). Beethoven was often irascible. It has been suggested he had bipolar disorder. Nevertheless, he had a close and devoted circle of friends all his life, thought to have been attracted by his strength of personality. Towards the end of his life, Beethoven’s friends competed in their efforts to help him cope with his incapacities.
Sources show Beethoven’s disdain for authority, and for social rank. He stopped performing at the piano if the audience chatted amongst themselves, or afforded him less than their full attention. At soirées, he refused to perform if suddenly called upon to do so. Eventually, after many confrontations, the Archduke Rudolph decreed that the usual rules of court etiquette did not apply to Beethoven.
Beethoven was attracted to the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment. In 1804, when Napoleon’s imperial ambitions became clear, Beethoven took hold of the title page of his Third Symphony and scratched the name Bonaparte out so violently that he made a hole in the paper. He later changed the work’s title to “Sinfonia Eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d’un grand’uom” (“Heroic Symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man”), and he rededicated it to his patron, Prince Joseph Franz von Lobkowitz, at whose palace it was first performed.
The fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony features an elaborate choral setting of Schiller’s Ode An die Freude (“Ode to Joy”), an optimistic hymn championing the brotherhood of humanity.
wikipedia: Age 7, he borrowed the CD of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto from his father’s collection, although he did not progress formally beyond Grade 3 piano tuition.
We’re turning a deaf ear to our musical youth: I am, of course, biased. Not only do I make my living as a concert pianist, but it was Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Bach and others who reached into my soul, ripped out whatever was in there, shook it about, polished it, took it for a ride and then put it back again in a way that just fitted a bit better.