December 16, 2005

Happy Birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven


Born this day in 1770 in Bonn. Here's the Grove Music Dictionary biography.

As regular readers know, while I greatly appreciate the genius of Beethoven's music, my appreciation is somewhat dampened by my dislike of the man's overriding ego reflected therein. Basically, he was full of himself and there is no way not to see this in his work. This wasn't just a character flaw peculiar to Beethoven, of course, but also a function of the overall shift in artistic sensibilities embodied by the Romantic revolution, a movement for which I've never had much sympathy. Here is what I had to say on this subject last year. But here is a post where I actually defended the old boy against being tagged with all the sins of Romanticism. That's me, Mr. Fair and Balanced.

As for his music itself, here is a list of Beethoven's symphonies, ranked in order of my preferences. Here is a post I did about my only brush with Beethoven's religious music (which I didn't much like because I didn't really believe he meant it). And I also have some thoughts here and here about some of Beethoven's keyboard music, which I play from time to time.

On the historical front, just this fall stories have surfaced about a newly-rediscovered manuscript and the possible location of the old boy's skull.

Finally, I don't think the day should pass without revisiting the discussion between Mrs. Thing and Mrs. Entity about how Beethoven was really rather glad when he went deaf.

Posted by Robert at December 16, 2005 09:53 AM | TrackBack

I love Beethoven's music - pretty much all of it.

Posted by: jen at December 16, 2005 03:20 PM

Oh, I like the music. I just don't like the man very much.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at December 16, 2005 05:10 PM

I think my feelings about the music are probably similar to yours, Robbo. Beethoven deserves a ton of admiration, but for me it's mostly intellectual. A little too much bombast in most of his work for my tastes.

What I really dislike about Beethoven is the way he created the notion of musicians as the unacknowledged legislators of the world, to paraphrase one of his sillier contemporaries. There's a direct line from Beethoven to the torrent of political bloviation we have to put up with today from Hollywood and other quarters.

Criminy, I'm getting reactionary. "Ah, the eighteenth century. Back then, they had real celebrities..."

Posted by: utron at December 16, 2005 05:26 PM

You sort of have to have a strong ego to compose music. Multiply that by infinity to compose as a deaf man. Beethoven's life and art are one of the most triumphant of all examples of a man's refusal to let fate be his master.

I actually like the anacdotes that expose Beethoven's ego. My favorite is his response to a critic (Who was really and truely a zit on the ass of art):

"O du elender Schuft! Was ich scheisse, ist besser als du je gedacht!
(Oh, you miserable scoundrel! What I shit is better than anything
you've thought!)".

I've said srtrikingly similar things under my breath a gazillion times. And, that was before I discovered the above quotation.

Posted by: Hucbald at December 18, 2005 10:44 PM

cell phones
cell phone deal

Posted by: cell phones at June 26, 2006 12:15 AM