Saturday, February 26, 2005

Beethoven's Hair

For access to the interactive site which tells this phenomenal story, click on above title.

I have Beethoven in my blood. So may you. Nightly, I was lullabied by his symphonies or for variation, a piano concerto. Passionate music. Provocative music. Music to woo a lover or win a war.

Da Da Da DUH. Da Da Da Duh.

In my family love of the music of Beethoven reached a profound level. Over the years we lived a sort of parallel Ludwigian existence. My father, given a musically gifted son, assumed the role of Beethoven's father. He had a passing resemblance to the great genius himself. If my father had let his hair grow, he would have looked like Beethoven. Alas. He did not. And he stopped short of waking my brother at three in the morning to practise.

My brother, one supposes, was to be the tortured genius. Given the painful exigencies of the real Beethoven's life, one wonders why we all entered into this legend with such whole hearted vigour. I think there was some belief in our family that it was necessary to suffer for one's art. No pain. No gain. I will stop short of saying that both my parents went deaf as an empathetic response to Beethoven in later life. But they did go deaf. The rigorous tutelege of young Ludwig was our family's template for life. And after all, our last name did begin with the letter "B." And my brother's name did begin with "L."

The long dead composer achieved sainthood in our household. Well, there was Jesus. And then there was Beethoven. Beethoven, writing Moonlight Sonata. Beethoven cutting the legs off his piano so that he could feel the vibrations of his music on the floor. Beethoven, stone deaf, being turned to face tumultous applause for the debut of his ninth and last symphony. Beethoven's sufferings somehow flavoured his music and made him real.

Then there was the fact of his personal habits, his temperament and lifestyle. I believe that loving Beethoven made us more tolerant of human weakness than we otherwise would have been. Fundamentalist. Evangelical. Teetotalers. He wasn't any of those things and yet we honoured him. Beethoven's foibles stretched us, made us think. Made us, somehow citizens of the world.

3 comments:

daisymarie said...

it sounds like he brought a sort of yin-yang balance to life for you.

may his passion freshly infuse your own!

steph said...
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"L"B" said...

Imagine my horror and delight when I found out that it was syphilis that did the old titan's ears in. Any thought of a parallel universe where I might have shared more than the first letters of his name vanished more quickly than a whore's purse.