Thursday, September 24, 2009

Appreciating Beethoven

Quite a number of weeks ago, Margaret had given me three volumes on the life of Beethoven. Although interested, I was a little apprehensive as to whether I would be able to 'slog' through three whole volumes!

Once I received the books however, I realized that they were not just academic volumes, but biographical in novel form. Within a few days I had begun volume one and I knew over the next few weeks I would be enjoying my reading of the life of Ludwig Van Beethoven!

Skillfully written by John Suchet, admittedly with some liberties taken, the biography spans the life of Beethoven from his birth in Bonn in 1170, to his excruciating death in Vienna in 1827.

What lay in between those years is thrilling, agonizing, triumphant and tragic. For someone who loves history, I was surprised that it was not the historical details of Beethoven's life that intrigued me, such as his first public appearance at the age of seven, or his much anticipated meeting of Haydn and Mozart; it was more the inner man, the turmoil and distress of his soul that caused me to go on and read through.

Beethoven had an admittedly angry passion that found it's vent and expression through his music. He was a introvert and believed that it was through his music that he was able to speak and find his voice. I have never been particularly drawn to Beethoven's music, however, during my reading of the second volume, I purposely listened to a selection of his Piano Sonatas, his Pastoral Symphony and his Fifth Symphony. As I did, an appreciation began to develop in me; I was now able to hear the trills, quavers, demi-quavers, rests. I actually began to anticipate them and because of my new found appreciation of the deaf composer, I could now hear them.

Beethoven was a man that enjoyed the beauty of nature, often taking long walks in the hills of Vienna. His music reflected his love of nature, the trill of a bird, the powerful rolling of thunder, yet he died as he had lived, almost manic in his need to have his voice heard through his music.

While on his many walks, God would have been speaking to Beethoven. Although growing increasingly more deaf, God's Voice would have been audible to him... 'the heaven's declare the glory of God.' .... 'For since the creation of the world (God's) invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

Beethoven appreciated nature, but whether or not that appreciation led him to Christ, I do not know. What I do know is that God Himself gave Beethoven life and the ability to compose profoundly amazing music and for this we can thank God.

As I bundle these three volumes together to return to Margaret, I realize that I will probably not all of a sudden become Beethoven crazy and play him non-stop. But something has indeed changed, and it is this... I now have an appreciation, and where I was once oblivious, I am now able to hear.

Thank you Margaret.

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