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- Beethoven His Spiritual Development
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As consumers we tend to forget that what we enjoy comes from the suffering of others. By this I don't just mean that dirt poor wages in Latin America give us cheap bananas, but the finer things come at a cost, too, in this case the music of Beethoven. As a consumer you listen to the music, love it, and yet don't have to live through the pain that aroused it in the first place.
Listening costs you nothing. In a sense it almost seems like irresponsibility or hearing a secret you weren't supposed t As consumers we tend to forget that what we enjoy comes from the suffering of others. In a sense it almost seems like irresponsibility or hearing a secret you weren't supposed to know, and one could make the argument that simply enjoying what came with such a heavy psychological price tag is even immoral. I won't make any judgments, but I will say that humans as a species still need great producers and creators if life is to be at all tolerable.
There's a good pain in great music. It brings the world into a mystical unity and resolves worldly pain through its transcendence. The book was good, too dependent on the author's interpretations and a bit outdated, but still full of insights into the man and his music. Dec 03, david blumenshine rated it really liked it. And he was not merely sensitive; he was not merely a reflective mirror. His experiences took root and grew. An inner life of quite extraordinary intensity was in process of development until the very end Jan 23, Cy Winther-Tamaki rated it liked it.
Insightful perspective of Beethoven's inner life, but was based rather much on speculation for my taste, and the author's bias came out pretty strong, though I agree that Beethoven is a magnificent composer, it isn't necessary to repeat "a composer of Beethoven's scale" so often. I did like the emphasis on Beethoven's struggles and how his music transformed in relationship to them.
Very entertaining insight into the mind of Beethoven. The author uses many primary sources, including Beethoven's letters; however, much of the book is purely speculative. I found the first third of the book, very dense and not as enjoyable. This book is for die hard fans of Beethoven, but probably not the average music fan.
I don't know why I found this so compelling, but I did. It's all speculative of course, but tracing someone's spirituality through their music is an interesting concept and a new one to a non-musical person like me. Feb 24, Grace Best-Page rated it did not like it Shelves: This reads like an esoteric doctoral thesis.
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I found it unreadable, and I even like esoteric stuff! May 07, Phyllis Jennings added it. Difficult, but worth the effort. Feb 07, Stargazer rated it liked it Shelves: Spoiled by some nutter pencilling tick marks all down either margin - why?? Why mark a library book anyway? Aug 03, Erkki rated it it was amazing. Dare to fight for what you beleive in Jamie Bigham rated it liked it Jul 08, Eve rated it really liked it May 25, Lawrence A rated it liked it Sep 28, Certain emotions and ex- pectations are aroused beside those that accompany our reactions to pure music.
And the sequences of such phrases, besides satisfying our musical faculty's criteria of coherence and fitness, also satisfy these other expectations, give a natural development to these other emotions, continue, by a process of or- ganic growth, this wilder life that has been awakened in us. But the poverty of language in names for subjective states has tempted many writers to describe these experiences, communicated to us by music, by describing some situation or event which would, they 43 BEETHOVEN think, arouse a similar response. And because such situations are very largely conditioned by the critic's sensibility and imagination the same composition may be given a great apparent variety of interpreta- tions.
But, in any case, the bare statement of a situa- tion the composition is supposed to be about tells us nothing of any value. Even if the composer had a definite situation in mind, and one knew precisely what that situation was, a description of the situa- tion tells us nothing of the quality of the response awakened by the music. Beethoven's imaginative realization of the death of a hero, in the slow movement of the Eroica sym- phony, for instance, is utterly different in quality from Wagner's realization of the same situation in the Siegfried funeral march.
On the other hand, knowledge of the situation tells us nothing that we want to know. If we use the word "heroic" to describe the music of the Eroica symphony, that is not because the symphony is "about" Napoleon or Abercrombie, but because Heroism, as a state of being, was realized by Beetho- ven to the extent that he has expressed it, and it is the quality of his realization that is important. It is his conception of the heroic that matters to us, and which is a clue to the greatness of the soul which is express- ing itself. The comparative tawdriness of Wagner's music is not due to any difference there might be in the imagined situation, but to the comparative poverty of his inner resources.
A knowledge of the situation that a musical com- position is "about," therefore, can tell us little of value. Nevertheless, a great deal of writing on music consists in presentations of imagined situa- tions, and this is one reason why writing on music is properly classed as one of the dreariest branches of literature. It is possible that a great literary artist could so select and present a situation that experiences similar to those evoked by a given composition would be experienced by the reader.
Beethoven, for instance, when asked for the "meaning" of the Appassionata sonata told his questioner to read Shakespeare's Tempest. No two compositions could be more unlike, and Beethoven was either joking or knew nothing of the play but its title. But he could, with more point, have referred a questioner to Macbeth as an illustra- tion of the first movement of the C minor symphony. These strange landscapes and violent varia- tions in the weather conditions that so many composi- tions seem to suggest are, we may suppose, the sym- bols for experiences that are less trivial than they seem.
They are merely unsuccessful devices of com- munication. We cannot know, for instance, what signif- icance dancing elves, murmuring brooks and thunder- storms may have in the imagination of the descriptive writer.
Beethoven His Spiritual Development
Such programmes are merely unintelligible. A man thinks of what symbols he can, and the symbols he invents are conditioned not only by his sensibility and imagination, but by his experience. To this is due the great variety of interpretations of the same composition. It is possible that the different inter- preters had similar spiritual experiences evoked by the composition, but it requires a great artist to ex- press such experiences unambiguously.
And as we have said, if we did know the programme we should know nothing of impor- tance about the composition. The "meaning" of these compositions is to be found in the spiritual experi- ences they evoke. The musical critic who wishes to describe these experiences is faced with precisely the same task as the literary critic who wishes to describe the significance of a poem and, like the literary critic, he is likely to achieve but a stammering success. But his task is no harder. Both critics should eschew "programmes" as irrelevant, although as the situa- tion is explicit in a poem it is much easier to regard it as vital.
But it is really no more illuminating to be told that Wordsworth wrote a sonnet about the view of London from Westminister Bridge than it is to be told that Chopin wrote a waltz about a puppy chas- ing its tail. The difference is that the poet himself cannot express his reaction to the situation without mentioning the situation, whereas the musician can do so. The reluctance of many musicians to admit that music of the kind we are discussing which includes almost the whole of Beethoven's music is in any sense programme music is due to their feeling that any proposed "situation" is not only inadequate but even irrelevant.
In denying the adequacy of any pro- posed situation to the musical effect they have been led to the strained position that music has no extra- musical content whatever, that it witnesses to nothing in the composer except his possession of an isolated faculty called musical imagination.
Beethoven : his spiritual development
This view, as we have said, is not compatible with our direct re- actions to music, and even the exponents of this. It is also in direct con- tradiction to the expressed views of some of the great composers themselves. Indeed, he seems to have regarded music not only as a medium for the presentation of "beauty," but as a language with which he was more familiar than any other. The evidence of his letters and reported remarks is quite clear on this point. Thus, in describing his method of composition to Louis Schlosser he refers to himself as "incited by moods, which are translated by the poet into words, by me into tones that sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes.
It is certain, therefore, that Beethoven, at any rate, considered that his music had an extra-musical con- tent, that is to say, a content that could conceivably be expressed in some other medium. But we may be quite certain that whatever poetic titles Beethoven or anybody else had given to his compositions would not have assisted his hearers in grasping this content.
For the content, as we have said, is the composer's reaction to the situation, not the situation. And this reaction is conditioned by the spiritual nature of the man and is a revelation of it. In his capacity to ex- press this content Beethoven reveals himself as a great musical genius, and the content itself reveals him as a great spirit.
It is usual to describe these states as "emotions" but this "word, unless carefully used, is misleading. Psychologists have tabulated human emotions. But it is difficult to find a musical com- position whose effect is adequately described as evok- ing one or more of these emotions. No composition, for instance, can be adequately described as "melan- choly" or "joyful. Gurney has proposed the term "fused emo- tion" to describe the musical experience, but the term is not very illuminating. We are again in presence of the mystery that attends our reaction to any work of art.
There are as few melancholy or joyful poems as there are musical compositions. Such synthetic wholes are doubtless the highest experiences of which we are capable, but they are probably too rare and of too little practical im- portance to have received names. There is no harm in calling them emotions, provided it is realized that we are only rarely referring to named emotions.
Some fairly complex emotions, such as "awe," have re- ceived names and have been more or less plausibly analysed into a number of simpler constituent emo- tions. But our reactions to a work of art have hitherto resisted analysis into these simple terms, and for that reason many people have supposed that some unique "aesthetic emotion" is involved. But we have already objected to that theory that it does not account for the differences in our reactions to different works of art.
The most valuable states or "emotions" that music arouses are those that spring from the richest and deepest spiritual context. So far as we can recognize the emotion communicated to us we can say something of the conditions it, as it were, presupposes. If there is nothing in our experience akin to that of the composer his composition can be for us nothing but an example of "pure music. To suppose that they do is to fall into the error of the programme writer.
Thus when Marx describes the A minor quartet as inspired by Beethoven's prog- ress from a sick bed to health we feel that the de- scription is both inadequate and arbitrary. He has failed to do justice to the quality of the experience from which the work sprang, and he has quite ar- bitrarily invented a cause of the experience.
The function of the kind of music we have been discussing is to communicate valuable spiritual states, and these states testify to the depth of the artisf s na- ture and to the quality of his experience of life. Such states cannot usually be correlated with definite situa- tions, and for that reason no programme for them can be given. They are the fruits of countless experi- ences as realized and co-ordinated by the artist, and they enter into the very texture of his spiritual being.
But there are certain classes of experiences, not per- haps of the highest order, for which situations can be assigned. Music expressing such experiences, de- liberately relating them to the situation, is the highest form of what is ordinarily called programme music. We may take Beethoven's Pastoral symphony as being, on the whole, a composition of this class.
It is concerned, for the most part, to depict its com- poser's reactions to various pastoral scenes. The notorious cuckoo notes, the effect of flowing water in the Beside the Brook movement, the storm, are specimens of music of this class. It would not be sufficient to say of such music that its purpose is to represent physical perceptions.
The representa- tion must be musical, and only as realistic as is com- patible with that condition. This means that the rep- resentation can never be completely realistic except when the physical perceptions concerned are musical sounds. Thus a tolling bell can be represented very realistically by tolling a bell.
But it is only the most stupid modern composers who give equally realistic representations of trains and motor-horns. The lists do not agree, but that does nothing to invalidate the existence of the correspondences. Even keys have their characteristic colours for some minds. It is pos- sible, therefore, that by correct choice of key and iji- strumentation compositions could be designed which would powerfully suggest to such minds certain land- scape effects. We also find that some music irresist- ibly reminds certain musical critics of food. Or it may arouse olfactory images.
Writings on music abound in which colours, wines, peaches and per- fumes are suggested to the authors by musical com- positions. But such powers of evocation belong to the more freakish resources of music. No compositions worth talking about are designed to arouse such im- ages, and probably those who experience them would regard them as amongst the least valuable of their reactions to the music.
Such by-products of auditory stimuli do not help us to understand the peculiar character of programme music. That character does not consist in any correspondences that may exist be- 57 BEETHOVEN tween auditory and other physical perceptions, but in the analogy between the musical emotions com- municated and the emotions aroused by the external situation that forms the programme of the composi- tion. If it he said, for instance, that Debussy's L'Apres- midi d'un Faune makes the impression of "a vege- table world alive in quivering hot sunshine Pro- gramme music, in the strict sense, may be defined as music that communicates musical experiences analo- gous to extra-musical experiences that may be associ- ated with some definite external situation.
It does not, any more than any other music, depict any part of the external world. The older Beethoven lived, the more and more profound was what he had to say. Such sustained development, in the case of an artist who reaches years of maturity, is a rare and impor- tant phenomenon. Bach, for instance, who may be likened to Beethoven for the seriousness and maturity of his mind, lost himself at the end in the arid laby- rinths of pure technique. Wagner, as the fever in his blood grew less, had nothing to express at the end but exhaustion and ineffectual longing. Beethoven's music continually developed because it was the ex- pression of an attitude towards life that had within it the possibility of indefinite growth.
Some attitudes towards life are not susceptible of development. They may achieve greater richness and subtlety, but they are incapable of organic growth. The cynic, for example, may become more bitter and penetrating, but unless he suffers a catastrophic change he remains at the same distance from reality.
That is, in fact, the weakness of Bach as compared with Beethoven. Wagner, the great apostle of the pride of life, finds, as the bright world slips past him, that he is left alone with his yearning and his pain. The attitude of both Bach and Wagner towards life was not sufficient to support all their length of days.
Beethoven, on his death-bed, could say, Plaudite, amid, comcedia finita est. But the "comedy" had been in play up to the last moment. The chief characteristics of the fully mature Beethoven's attitude towards life are to be found in his realization of suffering and in his realization of the heroism of achievement. The character of life as suffering is an aspect that our modern civilization, mercifully for the great majority of people, does a great deal to obscure. Few men have the capacity fully to realize suffering as one of the great structural lines of human life. Bach, as we have said, escaped the problem with his religious scheme.
Mozart, with his truer instinct, is bewildered. The G minor quintet is the most poignant expression of his angelic anguish at his late discovery of this earth's pain. To Beethoven the character of life as suffering became a fundamental part of his outlook. The deep sincerity and naivete of his nature, combined with the circumstances of his life, made this knowledge in- evitable.
The quality of this realization has nothing in common with the pessimism of such a man as Scho- penhauer. It is the direct, simple and final acceptance of an obvious fact. This attitude of mind is perhaps rarer to-day than at any previous period in history. To the modern mind suffering is essentially remedi- able. Suffering is primarily due to physical and moral maladjustment, and with the spread of science and correct social theories we shall be able to abolish it. For an increasing number of people suffering is al- ready practically abolished.
But to the vast ma- jority of people suffering is still one of the funda- mental characteristics of life, and it is their realiza- tion that an experience of suffering, pure and pro- found, enters as an integral part into Beethoven's greatest work, that helps to give that work its unique place in the minds and hearts of men. Beethoven's capacity for a deep and passionate realization of suffering necessitated, if he were not to be reduced to impotence, a corresponding capacity for endurance and an enormous power of self-assertion.
No artist ever lived whose work gives a greater im- pression of indomitable strength than we find in some of Beethoven's most characteristic movements. The force that triumphs throughout the Scherzo of the ninth symphony, for example, is indeed indestructible, while the fugue of the Hammerclavier sonata is an almost insensate outburst of unconquerable self- assertion. As he grew older his force increased. But a stronger, although a more sub- tle pulse, is to be found in some of the last string quartets.
In his last years he had more to carry and he carried it more lightly. The "personality" of such a man as Beethoven is a slowly developed synthetic whole. It is formed by the gradual combination of its constituent elements into an organic unity. For the development of a per- sonality a rich and profound inner life is necessary, and for that reason it is usually only great artists and religious teachers who impress us as heing complete persons.
Amongst the elements constitutive of Beethoven's personality we must include his lack of malleability. This quality made him al- most immune from purely external influences. The low standard of education lie achieved seems to have been as much due to his lack of plasticity as to his lack of opportunities. He was not an educahle man. He accepted none of the schemes of thought or conduct current in his time; it is doubtful whether he was even fully aware of their existence. He re- mained utterly faithful to his own experience.
It is for this reason that his affirmative utterances, as in the Credo of the Mass in D, have such unexampled weight. Such utterances spring solely from his own personal and tested experience. Beethoven's capacity for realizing the fundamental character of life in its two aspects of suffering and achievement, combined with his lack of flexibility, was the necessary condition for the development of his attitude towards life. That development takes the form of a synthesis. The Beethoven of the C minor symphony finds the meaning of life in achievement in spite of suffering.
Fate is an enemy to be defied. Hie Beethoven of the last quartets finds that the high- est achievement is reached through suffering. That the reconciliation he thus effected was genuine and complete is made evidenl by the music, for none of Beethoven's music is more obviously the expression of an authentic experience. The quality of this experience has led many writers to call this music "mystical" or "metaphysical.
He did not turn away from life towards some mystical Nirvana. He forgot none of the joy, the effort, or the pain. What he achieved is some- thing much more wonderful than an old man's seren- ity. The life in the last string quartets is as full, varied and intense as anywhere in Beethoven's music. But those aspects of life that Beethoven formerly pre- sented as contrasted he now presents as harmoniously flowering from a single stem.
Within the iron framework of Beethoven's per- manent attitude towards life flourished a highly sensi- tive and passionate emotional nature. Although his vision had the stern strength of the Puritan outlook it had none of its bleakness. He was fully alive to the countless lovely and tender things in life.
No one's reaction to simple pastoral scenes, for example, was ever more intense and innocent than Beethoven's. He had none of the doubts that troubled the Victorian romantics after their acquaintance with the doctrine of the "struggle for existence," neither had he any of the eighteenth-century cultured affectation of a "love for nature. Only a man pure in heart could have written the Pastoral symphony. The same quality is shown in what may be called his love music. In this it is typical. In spite of music's unexampled power of expressing eroticism, most powerfully exemplified by Wagner's work, there is no trace of this quality in Beethoven.
He knows noth- ing, even in his most abandoned moods as in the finale of the seventh symphony of the ecstasy of sexual delirium. We know from Beethoven's own words that he was what is called a "moralist" in sexual matters, but we know from his music that this was due to no asceticism, to no principles, but to the presence of very strong feelings which could allow nothing inferior in that kind to co-exist with them. To the man of the world Beethoven's love for music may be that of a romantic; to the youth who is just awakening to the awe and rapture of this great ex- perience Beethoven is one of the very few true poets of the heart.
Beethoven's attitude towards sexual love never became sophisticated. This very intense and rich emotional nature was, in truth, very simple and very pure. There were no feigned or borrowed emotions, and nerve-storms never took the place of feelings. These are the devices of a man who wishes to come to terms with his suffering without facing it in all its starkness. But Beethoven had the innocence of his courage. We have, then, in the person of Beethoven a musical genius with all the conditions for writing great music. He has a realization of the ultimate character of life, he has a force adequate to any trial, however arduous, his growth will he free from the distorting effects of mere convention, and his response is pure and sincere to a wide range of experience.
No other musician who ever lived has united so many advantages. The mystery of the appearance of what Goethe called "eine Natur" in contrast to a "siisse Puppe" is not to be resolved by any discussion of heredity and environment. For the chief characteristic of a person a "personality" is that it is a synthetic, an organic, whole, and not a mere collection of its constituent ele- ments. But, in fact, there is very little that is characteristic of Beethoven to be found in his ancestry.
It must be remembered, of course, that we know very little about his ancestry. It has been traced back to the beginning of the seven- teenth century and to a small village in Belgium near Louvain. But, for the most part, these people have left no record of themselves beyond their names and the dates of those events in their lives that are of interest to the State. We know that the family pro- duced a painter, a sculptor, and a cure, and that the commercial enterprise with which it was most prom- inently associated was the wine trade.
The first an- cestor about whom we have a fair amount of informa- tion is the grandfather, Ludwig van Beethoven, born in This Ludwig came to Bonn, at the age of nineteen, as singer in the court chapel, and steadily rose in his profession until, in , he became "Herr Kapellmeister. Beethoven always spoke of this ancestor with particular respect and, indeed, in his vigour and integrity he was not unlike Beetho- ven. It is probable that the old man had a good deal of the same "moralistic" outlook although, as he was not a creative artist, we cannot tell on what percep- tions and realizations it was based.
In any case, he is the only ancestor we can point to as showing any resemblance to Beethoven at all. It is possible, never- theless, that Beethoven derived more elements from his grandmother and father. We have no direct evi- dence for this, but it is significant that both were habitual drunkards. Habitual drunkenness is usually, psychologists inform us, the result of an inability to accommodate oneself wholly to reality. It is often a vice in that unfortunate class of people who have im- perfectly co-ordinated artistic faculties.
They yearn vaguely for something other than the world they know, but they lack the capacity to create a world nearer to their heart's desire. Neither the art of escape nor the art of revelation is possible to them. Nevertheless, they have perceptions they con- not use and impulses that never come to fruition.
Drink, or some other drug, by relieving their sense of impotence and by blurring the unfriendly outlines of the real world, brings them solace and becomes a necessity. In the case of the father we know that he had fair musical abilities, quite equal to the grand- father's, although nothing sufficient to justify any great ambition. And he appears to have been of the weak, gradually deteriorating type, not in the least the headstrong passionate drunkard.
He was a shift- less, feebly unscrupulous man. He presents many of the characteristics of the impotent dreamer type and certainly, if we are to account for Beethoven by any theory of heredity, something is needed to leaven the solid common sense and practical grasp of life shown by the grandfather. Of Beethoven's mother we know even less. We learn that she was "always seri- ous," a "quiet, suffering woman," pious, gentle and amiable, and that she was much liked and respected. It is certain that the boy Beethoven loved her pas- sionately; it is also pretty clear that he confided to her nothing of what was fermenting in his young mind.
It was her patience, gentleness and suffering that moved the boy to such an agony of tenderness. The prof oundest love of such a man is always based on compassion. More virile types, where no sex in- terest was concerned, would get little from Beethoven but his best wishes.
The traceable resemblance between Beethoven and his ancestry is, then, of the slightest. The fundamental characteristics we have already de- scribed are not, of course, to be illuminated in this way. There is no reason to suppose that Beethoven would have written like Mendelssohn if the circum- stances of his life had been as happy as Mendels- sohn's.
A capacity for realizing the character of life is not created, but only exercised, by particular occa- sions. Mendelssohn, in some circumstances, might have been reduced to impotence; he would never have become a tragic poet. From the point of view of Bee- thoven's development he had what can only be re- garded as favourable surroundings in his early years.
They were undesirable, as his deafness was calam- itous, only from the point of view of his personal happiness. From the point of view of mankind at large they were advantages.
It must certainly be counted an advantage, for instance, that Beethoven should so early have been pushed on to acquire a considerable degree of self-reliance. This unusual degree of maturity is the more explicable if we re- member that Beethoven occupied a fairly important musical position even at the age of twelve years. Besides being assistant organist to Neefe he was also "cembalist in the theatre," a position of considerable honour and responsibility. He owed this position largely to the fact that his father, inspired by the dazzling career of the young Mozart, endeavoured to exploit Beethoven as an infant prodigy.
The father's methods of achieving this end were certainly harsh. Sometimes the boy would be dragged from bed late at night, on his father's return from the local inn, and forced to practise the clavier. The father required unremitting industry, which he secured by the threat and practice of punishment.
Outside music, however, the father cared nothing for the boy's education. His fellow-student, Wurzer, re- membered him as dirty and uncared for. But Bee- thoven refused to blossom into an infant prodigy of the Mozart order. The father did the best he could by falsifying the boy's age, giving it out that he was born in instead of , but, even so, the per- formances of the young Beethoven, remarkable as they must have been, by no means reached the stand- ard set by the young Mozart. Yet that the boy was fairly precocious is shown by Neefe's communication, dated March 2, , to Cramers Magazine.
He speaks of "Louis von Beethoven, son of the tenor singer mentioned, a boy of eleven years and of most promising talent. He plays the clavier very skilfully and with power, reads at sight very well, and to put it in a nutshell he plays chiefly The Well-Tempered Clavichord' of Sebastian Bach, which Herr Neefe put into his hands. Whoever knows this collection of preludes and fugues in all the keys which might almost be called the non plus ultra of art will know what this means.
So far as his duties permitted, Herr Neefe has also given him instruction in thorough-bass. This youthful genius is deserving of help to enable him to travel. He would surely become a second Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were he to continue as he has begun. Of Beethoven's life from the year to the spring of we know practically nothing. The motive of his visit to Vienna at this latter date can only be guessed at. It is possible that the boy, then sixteen years of age, had become sufficiently conscious of his power to feel irked by the narrow opportunities offered him at Bonn.
All that is known certainly is that his visit to Vienna was a short one, that he took a few lessons from Mozart, and that he had to bor- row money on his journey back. His letter to Schaden 79 iBEETHOVEN of Augsburg, from whom he had borrowed the money, explains the circumstances, and also affords evidence of the exceptional maturity that had been achieved by this boy of sixteen. I shall not, however, attempt to justify my- self, until I have explained to you the reason why I hope my apologies will be accepted. I must tell you that from the time I left Augsburg my cheerfulness as well as my health began to decline; the nearer I came to my native city the more frequent were the letters from my father urging me to travel with all possible speed as my mother was not in a favourable state of health.
Beethoven : his spiritual development (Book, ) [efycymepodor.tk]
I therefore hurried forward as fast as I could, although myself far from well. My longing once more to see my dying mother overcame every obstacle and assisted me in surmounting the great- est difficulties. I found my mother still alive but in the most deplorable state; the disease was consumption, and about seven weeks ago, after much pain and suffering, she died. She was such a kind, loving mother to me, and my best friend. Ah, who was happier than I when I could still utter the sweet name, mother, and it was heard? And to whom now can I speak it?
Only to the silent image resem- bling her evoked by the power of the imagination. Imagine yourself in my place, and then I shall hope to receive your forgiveness for my long silence. You showed me extreme kindness and friendship by lending me three Carolins in Augshurg, but I must entreat your indulgence for a time.
My journey cost me a great deal, and I have not the smallest hopes of earning anything here. Fate is not propitious to me in Bonn. There was thus good reason for the "melancholy" mentioned by Beethoven. Even the most pressing needs could be met only through the good offices of a family friend, the violinist Franz Ries. Some thirteen years after, when Ferdinand Ries, the son of Franz, pre- sented a letter of introduction from his father to Beethoven in Vienna, Beethoven read the letter and said: He will be satisfied with that.
But the father's vice grew upon him until Beethoven, at the age of eighteen, had to assume full responsibility. As the result of a petition from Beethoven to the Elector the father's services were wholly dispensed with, and half his salary was taken from him and paid to the son.
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At this time, therefore, Beethoven had assumed the full duties of a man. Even in his earliest compositions there are indications of an experience of suffering altogether unusual in so young a boy. Later on, when Beethoven was exulting in his con- sciousness of his own tremendous power, this element in his music underwent a curious and temporary trans- formation. But at this time Beethoven could still have doubts about the precise worth of his musical capac- ity.
Bonn offered him no proper outlet for his en- ergies, his home life was hardly stimulating, and he probably became more and more aware of his lack of general culture. The general culture of his time consisted chiefly in the idealization of certain charac- ters in Latin and Greek literature. It was the kind of thing that could be picked up quite readily by con- versation and by reading a few translations. Intercourse with these amiable people, excursions and holidays with them in the country, gave him much happiness.
At the same period the Elector established a theatrical orchestra, besides that belonging to the Court Chapel, and Beethoven became a viola player in both. The theatrical orchestra, di- rected by Joseph Reicha, consisted of very good per- formers, and during the four years that Beethoven was associated with it, it played a large number of the most famous operas of almost every well-known school of composition. Beethoven thus had first-class opportunities of gaining experience of instrumental music. And a band of wood-wind players, that the Elector probably brought with him from Vienna, would seem to have given Beethoven his quite un- usual insight into the possibilities of these instru- ments.
This pianist was the Abbe Sterkel. He excelled in "ladylike" playing, and he sufficiently impressed Bee- thoven to make the latter reluctant to play after him. The four years from were thus a period of considerable educational activity. The serious part of this education was, of course, the musical part. Al- though neither in pianoforte playing nor in composi- tion was Beethoven ever docile enough to model him- self upon a master, he was receptive enough to learn whatever he wanted to learn.
His criticism, as is al- ways the case with a creative genius, was with ref- erence to his own needs. What he learned depended not only on what he was taught, but on what he felt ministered to his own musical growth. The same is true of what general culture he im- bibed. There was very little in the current education that he could have assimilated, even if he had had the opportunity. Ideas and information, for their own sake, never interested Beethoven. Amongst the lofty sentiments of the ancients and of Goethe he found some that he could interpret as principles in which he believed, and he was never tired of reading them.
But his way of regarding lit- erature was utterly different from that of the ordinary educated man or literary connoisseur. He lacked the necessary detachment. Please re-enter recipient e-mail address es. You may send this item to up to five recipients.
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J W N Sullivan Publisher: The New Library , no. English View all editions and formats Rating: Subjects Beethoven, Ludwig van, -- More like this Similar Items. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private.