Sunday, June 26, 2011

Something Truly Amazing and Beautiful

Ludwig van Beethoven is probably one of the most well known classical composers in human history.  Even people who know nothing about classical music have probably heard of him.  Most people probably also know that eventually Beethoven went completely deaf.

Imagine that for a moment.  Your entire life is music, and in the middle of your career you begin to go deaf.  It would be as if your life were cooking and you lost the use of your hands, or if your passion was reading and you lose the power of sight.

What is amazing is that Beethoven continued to compose and perform music even after he had lost the power to hear.  It might not be something that we think about often past the superficial notion that the fact that he could do that is ridiculously amazing.  But here was a man so dedicated to the art of music, so passionate about creating something beautiful that he was willing to continue to give it to the world although he would never physically hear it himself.

This piece, Beethoven's String Quartet 132, mvt 3 is nothing short of amazing.  Beethoven's music reproduces a sort of maturity of the human experience, emotions that are not overly passionate but still complex.  It should be noted that by the time he composed this piece he was, indeed, completely deaf.

This is what it means to be human: to give something beautiful to this horrifying world even when its beauty will never befall your own physical sense.


6 comments:

Silverfiddle said...

Good ol' Ludwig Van, as Alex likes to call him in A Clockwork Orange, was an amazing composer.

I'm not an expert on classical music, but I love it as background. It's great for studying

jez said...

Late period beethoven is amazing, the quartets include some of my favourite pieces. But i don't think it'd work well in the background.

Jack Camwell said...

What I find amazing about it all is that music can be so emotionally and intellectually complex without words.

That's kind of why I hate the minimalist movement. They seem to be more concerned with music being aurally pleasing rather than conveying any sort of message or without trying to ilicit any complex human thought.

This is why I also enjoy some of the more atonal composers like Stravinsky and Webern. The music is in a style that most people are not taught to appreciate, so it takes some getting used to. But once you free your mind from appreciating only what is considered to be conventional then you truly start to appreciate it.

I have to confess that I got this idea from Karen over at Eastern Right. She seems to have been posting classical music on Sundays.

Damien said...

Savants like Beethoven can never be compared but I will dare to do so and mention Mozart.

Both were able to imagine in their minds entire works and in illness, deathbeds and through deafness were still able to produce something more than magic.

Mozart during his last breathing hours dictated and completed not one but three works that he had not finished, in his pain and without being accompanied to test.

People like Beethoven and Mozart are true examples of human miracles.

jez said...

It's interesting that any mainstream audience can accept atonal modern music when it's the soundtrack to a film or even a cartoon, but take away the visual distraction and many would find the same music unbearable.

I really like it when music finds the boundary between chaos and form. There's pop music that does this too. You can begin to spot the outline of a traditional form but it purposefully collapses on itself before fulfilling that expectation. My description might sound drily cerebral, but in practice I find it a profoundly visceral experience.

Jack Camwell said...

Visceral is a good word for it.

For me it's all about experiencing something that you've not experienced before, which is why I'm not a big fan of the Romantic era in classical music. The emotions are simple; passionate, but simple. Beethoven goes beyond the obvious and forces the listener to think beyond personal experience.

And Damien, I whole heartedly agree that Mozart is amazing as well.