I’m reminded that today’s Beethoven’s birth anniversary. At least, it could be his birth anniversary: it’s not certain whether he was born on 16 or 17 December 1770. Anyway, it doesn’t matter – because 240 years on, people are still playing & listening to his stuff!
I still remember discovering an old LP record of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony at home as a kid and blasting the vinyl to a young heart’s content.
Later on, the wide-eyed (or eared?) innocence waned, and for a period of time I wandered off cavalierly in search for other sounds.
But of course I was young & stupid! There is more than mere sounds in Beethoven’s music. It is a whole universe of experience that is still marvellously relevant today. There are tonnes of academic analyses of his works which I shan’t bore you with.
For me – to put it simply – his works embody
- the fateful – Symphony no. 5 in C minor. Even if you don’t listen to classical music, it’s very likely you’d have heard the famous first 8 notes before.
- the visionary modern artist – Sonata no. 29 in B flat “Hammerklavier”
- the heroic – Symphony no. 3 in E flat “Eroica”
- the ethereal – 2nd movement of Piano Concerto no. 5 in E flat “Emperor”
- the full embrace of nature – Symphony no. 6 in F “Pastoral”
- joy – final movement, Symphony no. 9 “Choral”: so much so it forms the basis for the song Joyful Joyful in Sister Act. Yes, that one with Whoopi Goldberg.
- sweetness – Romance No. 2 in F
Beethoven was a complex man. Apart from the music, read these words from his letters to his “immortal beloved” –
Be calm my life, my all. Only by calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together. Be calm – love me – today – yesterday – what tearful longings for you – you – you – my life – my all – farewell. Oh continue to love me, never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.
Mmm… so much for the legendary caricature of an angsty grouch.
Anyway, Beethoven’s list of music repertoire goes on, and I’m still exploring. Happy playing & listening!(*famously quoted in the movie Sex and the City, which itself is an interesting thought: who knew Beethoven & Carrie Bradshaw could ever be mentioned in the same breath?!)