Beethoven’s music reverberates for 250 years

“All celebrations will not end in 2020, and will continue until September 2021.” In 2016, the German Federal Government designated the Beethoven Memorial Year as a national mission and plans to invest nearly 30 million euros in financial support and establish Beethoven Anniversary LLC to prepare for celebrations.

Everything is in order. On December 17, 2019, the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday “BTHVN2020” kicked off, preparing to conclude on December 27, 2020. Everyone is envisioning the grand performance of 2020, but the sudden new crown epidemic has caused the celebrations to be completely suspended.

The people of Beethoven’s homeland will not stop there. Under the call of the German media, at 18:00 on March 22, 2020, musicians and music lovers in Germany opened doors and windows and played Beethoven’s masterpiece “Ode to Joy” on the balcony. Under strict quarantine control, music was forced to fly high.

Hundreds of commemorative projects that have been disrupted have not been disappointed. Beethoven Anniversary Co., Ltd. announced that “BTHVN2020”, a “built for everyone” event, will not end on December 17, 2020, but will continue until 2021.

In this year of severe crisis, this seemingly forced and helpless memorial continuation may be regarded as a hopeful symbol of “vitality”, just as people miss him.

So, what people need Beethoven so far?

The strong motivation to break away from “perfect”
After listening to Beethoven’s “Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor”, Haydn bluntly said that the music “fears me” and labeled “inciting”, “rebelling”, “rough”, “full of personal passion and struggle”. It is believed to damage the “sacred art”.

This may be regarded as a “master-killing” action by Beethoven in music creation. Between 1792 and 1800, Beethoven’s creations inevitably lingered in the classical “perfection” laid by Haydn and Mozart. However, there have been individual notes like the composer himself, leaping out of this exquisiteness without restraint. Balanced, elegant and restrained framework. His music is not reconciled to just being an obedient server.

After Beethoven and Haydn “parted ways” in 1794, his creations even showed signs of struggling to break free from shackles. The establishment of diplomatic relations between Austria and France in 1798 made Beethoven more intuitively feel the huge waves set off by the French Revolution.

His thoughts on oppression, freedom, and independence are further reflected in his creation. It was in that year that Beethoven uncharacteristically wrote the title “Sonata of Sadness” on the score of “Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor”.

A brief strong beat motive is placed at the beginning of the movement and marked with “GRAVE” (Zhuangban). At that moment, he seemed to have completely broken away from Haydn’s projection. Is it the “sorrow” that bows his head and sighs with fate, or the “passion” that sings the praises of life? Later generations were puzzled by the separation of the title and the genre, but there is no doubt that Beethoven is forming his emotional personal style.

When the fast and dense strong notes are thrown at the old-fashioned Viennese piano, Beethoven’s “piano killer” persona is also constructed. Obviously, an old-fashioned piano with a crisp texture and a narrow range can no longer bear the vitality of Beethoven’s fingertips.

Although the piano played by Beethoven is often only “a pile of waste wood”, this unprecedented way of playing is highly sought after. The local luthiers also rushed to present freshly finished pianos, which were reviewed by Beethoven’s fingertips.

Undoubtedly, Beethoven has broken the music rules established by his predecessors painstakingly to some extent, but as he said: “If it is for something more beautiful, any rules can be broken.”

It is worth mentioning that this famous “resistor” in the history of music did not face the patrons as described in some biographies, but always held his head high and rebellious. “Talking about money” is really so shameful, so how can “art” and “independence” have their own beauty?

He made full use of the existing sponsorship in a more comfortable way and developed this emerging market enthusiastically, which also paved a clear path for future composers to no longer be shackled by the “sponsorship system”.

Prospero Reborn
In addition to the “breaking” of rules, people’s attention to Beethoven’s other keyword “ear disease” almost exceeds his work itself. Ear disease and musicians, a group of words that are naturally contradictory, the powerful impact brought by this physical defect has become a prop for many people to “image building” for Beethoven.

Now when you type “Beethoven’s ear disease” in the search box, you will see someone asking: If there is no ear disease, can Beethoven be so great? This is an almost cruel question.

In 1814, Beethoven almost smashed the piano in his last public performance as a pianist. But this kind of power is very different from the spirit of “being born with me”. At that time, he could hardly hear any sound except for the strong vibration of his fingertips.

Beethoven’s ear disease had first appeared in 1794. He was 24 years old that year, and a new world of music had just opened before his eyes. He didn’t care about this “temporary minor illness”. But the ear disease developed uncontrollably, and he was forced to live in isolation until 1802.

“Symphony of Heroes” has Beethoven’s revised handwriting on the cover of the score

After “parting ways” with Haydn, his creations even showed signs of struggling to break free of shackles.

Beethoven almost smashed the piano in his last public performance as a pianist.

In Heiligenstadt, a small town on the northern outskirts of Vienna, he wrote his suicide note, confessing the great despair brought by his incurable ear disease. He begged, “Please don’t forget me after death,” and prayed: “Just give me a day of pure happiness.”

For Beethoven, it has been a dark year, and the complex emotions intertwined with pain, loneliness, and restlessness are often gushing, as can be seen from the “Sonata in D minor” he composed in the same year.

At first, this piece was suggested to be a narrative depiction of the French Revolution. Beethoven believes that it is sheer nonsense to create the title music for politics at “this moment”. So-called now, that is, in 1801, Napoleon reached an agreement with Pope Pius VII, and he had an ominous premonition that “everything is going back to the old way.”

For Napoleon, Beethoven’s emotions lingered repeatedly in infatuation and questioning. When creating this work, he chose to withdraw from the concrete political reality. This sonata was named after Shakespeare’s work of the same name “The Tempest” in the future. The protagonist Prospero’s “exile” and “struggle” in the wave of life is often compared with Beethoven. Romain Roland directly characterizes this work as Beethoven’s “self-expression”.

Some people have heard strong and thorough self-exposure, while others have seen people’s struggles and social sorrows and joys. But in any case, no one denies that the expression of this work is a torture and deconstruction of the established model. Moreover, it is brewing a turning signal in Beethoven’s creation system.

Later generations speculated that the suicide note written in October 1802 actually touched Beethoven’s long-silent strings of life. The “Symphony No. 2 in D Major”, written in the same month, may confirm this speculation. At that time, Beethoven had returned to Vienna, and the love of life became the main theme of the whole work.

The following year, Beethoven began to compose the famous “Symphony No. 3 in E flat major”. Needless to say, the creative mentality related to Napoleon reached its peak in the “hero” era in Beethoven’s creation history.

Back to this question, is Beethoven’s greatness created by ear disease? “Failure is the mother of success”, this is by no means a romantic proposition. For a real individual, it is the most intimate pain and real trouble.

A great work and the birth of a great man are a combination of various factors. In another parallel time and space, perhaps there is another Beethoven who has a healthy and prosperous life. He did not create the “third” and “ninth” that we are familiar with, but he will still create other works beyond our imagination.

“Why doesn’t Beethoven release new songs?”
“Integrating classical masterpieces, creating a precedent for romance”, this symmetrical and neat sentence pattern sums up Beethoven’s special status in the history of music to a certain extent. So, is it more “classical” or more “romantic”?

Among the various opinions, the editor of “Beethoven’s Age 1790-1830” simply stated: “1790 to 1830 is the age of Beethoven.” This is an almost deified statement. There is no other era in the history of music that is completely dominated by a composer.

On May 15, 2019, Bonn, Germany, the artist placed 500 Beethoven sculptures to commemorate Beethoven’s 250th birthday

At 18:00 on March 22, 2020, musicians and music lovers in Germany opened doors and windows and played Beethoven’s masterpiece “Ode to Joy” on the balcony and garden.

In fact, the “Beethoven Mythology” has intensified since the beginning of the German writer ETA Hoffman, and was pushed to a climax by the composers dominated by Schumann in the 19th century. In that era when they were keen on “creating gods”, they desperately needed an artistic “savior” to assume the role of spiritual leader.

However, it is the same person who inspires them to resist the authority of the master and who puts them in the shadow of “unchallenged”. Composers for a whole century, while madly infatuated with Beethoven, are constantly forcing themselves to examine and reflect, and attack him in their own ways in fear.

Therefore, Schubert, Berlioz, and Brahms are often regarded as Beethoven’s “heirs.” But Beethoven did not really “belong” to them.

After being “deified”, Beethoven does not even belong to music alone. No one really has the right to interpret Beethoven, and it seems that everyone has the right to interpret Beethoven.

At the beginning of the 20th century, he was “become” a revolutionary and passionate cry for the German labor movement. During and after the First World War, he took on the important task of peace envoy, but during the Second World War he changed his face and became the propaganda drum of the Nazis.

During the “Cold War”, Beethoven in East Germany and Beethoven in West Germany faced each other in the air. When the Berlin Wall fell, he sang about “freedom.” Even, as one of the important representatives of mankind, he was sent to space by the Voyager Golden Record.

He appears in every occasion where he is needed in a different face, but no one can unilaterally monopolize his “interpretation power.” He is like an infinite mine, where people get what they need. Beethoven was shaped, interpreted, and abstracted as a multi-layered symbolic sign.

We don’t want to see Beethoven who is fabricated and obscured in various “image projects”. “I don’t believe that anyone’s life exists to be…”interpreted.” In the preface of “Beethoven’s Biography: Tribulation and Glory”, writer Jan Swaford said such a sentence.

But before becoming the “created”, Beethoven was the “creator” first. When we hear the “Ninth Symphony” on various occasions-such a brilliant work that was born in the late stage of his painful creation-in a daze, it seems that he is giving a public speech on the theme of freedom. It is hard not to do so. Shivering.

“Why didn’t Beethoven release new songs?” Although it was just a joking commentary on the hot search bar, it also stimulated the creative desire of some classical or pop musicians. And indeed, some people are looking forward to seeing a more vigorous Beethoven who broke through from the facial makeup, in this era, to provide a new answer to the question of “why do we need him so far?”

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