Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Music, the greatest good that mortals know, And all of heaven we have below."

The immortal Beethoven was born on this day in 1770, 237 long years ago. There is, however, some dispute as to the exact day. According to Wikipedia: Beethoven's date of birth—usually given as December 16—is not known with certainty, but is inferred from circumstantial evidence. Well into adulthood, Beethoven believed he had been born in 1772, and told friends the 1770 baptism was of his older brother Ludwig Maria, who died in infancy; but Ludwig Maria's baptism is recorded as taking place in 1769. Some biographers assert that his father falsified his date of birth in an attempt to pass him off as a child prodigy like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but this is disputed. Children of that era were usually baptized the day after birth, but there is no documentary evidence that this occurred in Beethoven's case. It is known that his family and his teacher Johann Albrechtsberger celebrated his birthday on 16 December. While the evidence supports the probability that 16 December 1770, was Beethoven's date of birth, this cannot be stated with certainty.

What is not in dispute is the magnitude of his genius and the ineffable beauty of his music. Here is Leonard Bernstein, in his The Joy of Music, on one aspect of that music:

Many, many composers have been able to write heavenly tunes and respectable fugues. Some composers can orchestrate the C-major scale so that it sounds like a masterpiece, or fool with notes so that a harmonic novelty is achieved. But this is all mere dust—nothing compared to the magic ingredient sought by them all: the inexplicable ability to know what the next note has to be. Beethoven had this gift in a degree that leaves them all panting in the rear guard.

Beethoven broke all the rules, and turned out pieces of breath-taking rightness. Rightness—that's the word! When you get the feeling that whatever note succeeds the last is the only possible note that can rightly happen at that instant, in that context, then chances are you're listening to Beethoven. Melodies, fugues, rhythms—leave them to the Chaikovskys and Hindemiths and Ravels. Our boy has the real goods, the stuff from Heaven, the power to make you feel at the finish: Something is right in the world. There is something that checks throughout, that follows its own law consistently: something we can trust, that will never let us down.

(My title is from Joseph Addison's Song for St. Cecilia's Day; the piano illustrated is Beethoven's; the top piece of music is part of his manuscript for his sonata for piano and cello, Op. 69; the bottom is part of his manuscript for the supremely beautiful Op. 111, Beethoven's last piano sonata.)



At 9:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Beethoven's music is timeless. It is heavenly and inspiring.So many years after his death his music still continues to enchant millions. This is David Ben from Israeli Uncensored News

At 7:47 AM, Blogger Sun Flower said...

“Music has the power to move a person between different realities: from a broken body into a soaring spirit, from a broken heart into the connection of shared love, from death into the memory and movement of life. Music has the power to touch the heart of a child with God."
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At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Vika said...

music is my life!

At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Cialis Tablets said...

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Ludwig van Beethoven (Listeni/ˈlʊdvɪɡ væn ˈbeɪt.hoʊvən/; German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːt.hoːfən] ( listen); baptized 17 December 1770[1] – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas, and 16 string quartets. He also composed other chamber music, choral works (including the celebrated Missa Solemnis), and songs.

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At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Generic Medicines said...

Beethoven was the grandson of a musician of Flemish origin named Lodewijk van Beethoven (1712–73) who moved at the age of twenty to Bonn. Lodewijk (Ludwig is the German cognate of Dutch Lodewijk) was employed as a bass singer at the court of the Elector of Cologne, eventually rising to become Kapellmeister (music director). Lodewijk had one son, Johann (1740–1792), who worked as a tenor in the same musical establishment, and gave lessons on piano and violin to supplement his income. Johann married Maria Magdalena Keverich in 1767; she was the daughter of Johann Heinrich Keverich, who had been the head chef at the court of the Archbishopric of Trier.

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