Granted there were other composers who suffered various disabilities such as Robert Schumann, Frederic Chopin, Gustave Holst and Maurice Ravel, but it was Beethoven's struggle with increasing deafness to the point of being near-total, that speaks to me. (In fact, if you look at the blog photo above you will see a bust of Beethoven on my fireplace mantle.) It illustrates for me the successful human struggle to overcome adversity.
Beethoven's muscular mind was so creative and inspired that not even deafness could shut out the voices of angels. His immense contributions to the vast human musical treasury are celebrated and still loved, even 190 years after his death. Who can not be moved by Beethoven's 5th symphony or his timeless 9th symphony --written in silence -- or his much loved Moonlight Sonata? German jurist and writer, Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder (1773-1798) wrote this about Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata:
"Many passages were so vivid and engaging that the notes seemed to speak to him. At other times the notes would evoke a mysterious blend of joy and sorry in his heart, so that he could have either laughed or cried. This is a feeling that we experience so often on our path through life and that no art can express more skillfully than music."*
Yes, Herr Wackenroder, music can express the human heart where words fail. Music has been an important companion throughout my own 33 year disability contracted at age thirty.
Here then, is the 1st movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, performed by Wilhem Kempff.
* Jan Swafford, Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), p. 290.
I don't listen to classical music very often, and I'm not sure why. This is a lovely piece and a great reminder that genius can live within what society views as brokenness. I pray for eyes to see the genius.
You will Belinda. May I suggest Beethoven 9th symphony, 4th movement? It's about 17 minutes long (depending on the rendition)
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