Saturday, June 9, 2012

Freude, schöner Götterfunken*

I've fantasized about the Passamaquoddy Bay Symphony playing Beethoven's ninth symphony since I discovered that the orchestra performs his symphonies regularly. My dream is about to come true: tomorrow afternoon I will be sitting mere feet from the PBSO as they perform the first movement (Allegro) from the ninth.

For the past two days (today is Day Three), I've been gorging myself on anything and everything Beethoven and the ninth symphony. I love and respect him deeply, and the last few days have reminded me just how passionate I am about him and his music. He was always ahead of what everyone else was doing/listening to. He made up his own rules instead of playing by everyone else': a choir and four soloists in a symphony? Why not?

I started my Beethoven fest with one of my favourite movies: Beethoven Lives Upstairs. It reminded me of just how strong my feelings about him and his music are. I can't imagine how awful it must've been for him to go deaf, which started when he was in his thirties. For most of the rest of his life, he heard a ringing in his ears, but for the last nine years he heard absolutely nothing. But I refuse to feel sorry for him: during his life, he didn't want people to feel sorry for him because he was deaf, and I respect his wishes.

He's like a friend to me. So while I have learned as much as possible about his music, I've also devoured anything and everything that I could about his life and who he was as a man: what his personality was like and what made him the way he was (lead poisoning had a lot to do with it), what his quirks were (sixty beans per cup of coffee--which is actually fairly weak by my family's standards), what made him happy (being out in nature), what drove him up the wall (he probably wouldn've tolerated me tearing up at some of his music--hey, I can't help it, Herr Beethoven! Your music is so beautiful and powerful).

Thank you/danke, Beethoven, for your music and for changing the history of music forever. There's a reason why only one of the plaques above the stage of Symphony Hall in Boston has a name on it, and why that name is yours. Thank you for being unafraid to take the old rules and smashing them to bits, no matter what anyone else thought.

When are you doing the Presto, PBSO?

*"Joy, O wondrous spark divine"--the first line of the Ode to Joy.

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