van Beethoven was the reflection of infinite strength and musicality. A
man who did not allow deafness to bar him from composing music, he
exhibited the amazing ability to transcend physical limitations.
Beethovenís childhood was difficult and tumultuous. His father was a
violent drunkard who hoped to capitalize on Beethovenís piano playing.
The young boy was abused while he practiced, and forced to give concerts
in order to fund his fatherís continual use of alcohol. Beethoven
became a shy, awkward, and excessively sensitive young man whose
only source of companionship and tenderness was his mother.
Although Beethoven did exhibit a great deal of talent
in his childhood performances, he did not rouse the attention of
audiences as Mozart had done. Beethovenís initial teacher was a kind
man by the name of Christian Gottlob Neefe. Neefe was the court
organist, and allowed Beethoven to substitute for him as times. In 1787
the courtís elector was impressed with Beethoven, and provided him
with the funds to visit Vienna. There Beethoven played for Mozart, the
man he most revered, and won his approval. Sadly, he received the news
that his mother was suffering from tuberculosis, and rushed back home
from Vienna to sit by his motherís death bed.
Following the death of his mother, Beethoven was
wholly responsible for controlling his fatherís antics. In order to
support himself and his intemperate father, Beethoven performed on the
viola in theatre orchestra, and gave lessons to the children of
nobility. In 1790 Haydn encountered Beethoven, and was greatly impressed
by the boyís talent. Haydn encouraged Beethoven to come to Vienna and
study with him. Thus, 1792 found Beethoven living in Vienna and studying
under Haydn. However, the personalities of these two musicians clashed.
Haydn could not temper nor work with Beethovenís aggressive and crude
manners, and Beethoven could not conform himself to Haydnís
traditional and restrictive views. Beethoven sought other mentors;
however, he encountered few who he was able to learn from. A self taught
man, Beethoven could not confine his musical style to the limiting
beliefs of others.
Throughout his life, Beethoven received tremendous
support from the courts. Many princes welcomed him and appreciated his
talents. The nobility gave Beethoven great respect when he performed,
and often requested private lessons from him. They looked past his
sensitive, and often rude behavior because of the extent to which they
valued his musicianship.
In 1801 Beethoven began to recognize that he was
going deaf He did not alert many of his friends about this condition,
and therefore many believed that he was unnecessarily becoming ruder and
more reclusive. At this time, Beethoven wrote a will, as he anticipated
a quick death. However, Beethoven summoned up the strength to endure,
and death did not suddenly overtake him. Many brilliant pieces of music
were yet to be written. A heroic and somber tone were expressed in his
next works, characterizing the trials Beethoven had endured.
Men of the highest stations vied to entertain
Beethoven, as he became a greater and greater illustration of strength.
Almost completely deaf, Beethoven turned away from people, and looked to
spirit for comfort and assurance. He worked assiduously on his music,
producing spellbinding symphonies and operas. Beethoven was prone to
falling in love, and constantly dedicated his works to the beautiful,
noble women who came to him for private lessons.
During the middle phase of his life, Beethoven
produced music prolifically. Symphony no. 6, Symphony no. 7, and
Symphony no. 8, as well as many sonatas were written and distributed.
Beethovenís days as a pianist had come to a close, for deafness
prevented him from performing. However, this afforded Beethoven greater
time to spend on his compositions. When he contemplated moving to
Germany to attain a secure post, many of his Viennese patrons banded
together to provide the composer with a lifelong income.
Toward the final phase of Beethovenís life, he
focused on bringing out spiritual concepts in his music. He also hoped
to gain custody of his brotherís orphaned son. Although the young boy
was eventually placed under Beethovenís custody, he proved to be an
ungrateful burden. Nonetheless, Beethovenís commitment to
spiritualizing his music endured.
In 1824 Beethoven sat onstage at the premiere of the
Ninth Symphony. Beating in time with the music, he was completely
unaware when the piece came to an end. Thus, the audience came to
appreciate the reality of Beethovenís miraculous strength. He was a
man who did not allow deafness to distance him from the music in his
soul. Although he could not hear a word, he could communicate immensely
powerful emotions to masses of individuals. Thus, when Beethoven passed
away in 1827 thousands of his devotees lined the streets in
Notes by Shanaira Udwadia (May-2001)