A Musical gift… Beethoven’s Birthday

In honor of Beethoven’s recent birthday, I thought a departure from music about Christmas and Winter would be appropriate. Aside from his notable success as a performer, choir director, and conductor Beethoven succeeded in persevering on a lifelong journey of musical study and composition in spite of numerous family and financial difficulties, and most of all in spite of ultimately going deaf. I believe that though his deafness obviously presented a struggle, the challenge seems to have opened his compositions to an internal world, where he pushed his own musical limits beyond the conventions of the time, and beyond anything he had previously written. His late compositions including the Missa Solemnis, the late string quartets, and perhaps most notably, the Ninth Symphony represent some of his very best work. He struggled daily with depression, often had to write his conversations with friends back and forth by notebook, yet he still composed and conducted. At one famed performance of the Ninth Symphony, which he conducted, when the piece was over he could not hear the applause and one of the musicians had to turn him around to see the audience, who had stood and were clapping wildly so that he could see how much they loved his music. I sometimes wonder if Beethoven’s music would be as compelling if he had not had such a struggle, if he had been blessed with an easy life? It’s impossible to know, but the music speaks for itself. This is one of my favorite performances of the Ninth Symphony, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, the former conductor of Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar , a youth symphony in Venezuela. His story is also quite amazing, and a topic for another blog! For now, I will just say that he is perfectly matched to conduct this amazing piece of music!

Karine Stone