Life is short, art eternal – Beethoven – The Man & the Artist as Revealed in His Own Words

Life is short, art eternal.

Beethoven in his Own Words

Love of Nature

How happy I am to be able to wander among bushes and herbs, under trees and over rocks; no man can love the country as I love it. Wood, trees and rocks send back the echo that man desires.

On His On Works

So I haven’t a single friend; I must live alone. But well I know that God is nearer to me than to the others of my art; I associate with Him without fear, I have always recognized and understood Him, and I have no fear for my music; — it can meet no evil fate. Those who understand it must become free from all the miseries that others drag with them.

Beethoven as Critic

Do not tear the laurel wreaths from the heads of Handel, Haydn and Mozart; they belong to them, — not yet to me.

Handel is the unattained master of all masters. Go and learn from him how to achieve vast effects with simple means.

Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel on his grave.

On His Disposition and Character

I love most the realm of the mind which, to me, is the highest of all spiritual and temporal monarchies.

I spend all my mornings with the muses; — and they bless me also in my walks.

Many a vigorous and unconsidered word drops from my mouth, for which reason I am considered mad.

On Suffering

It was impossible for me to say to others: speak louder; shout! for I am deaf. Ah! was it possible for me to proclaim a deficiency in that one sense which in my case ought to have been more perfect than in all others, which I had once possessed in greatest perfection, to a degree of perfection, indeed, which few of my profession have ever enjoyed?

My defective hearing appeared everywhere before me like a ghost; I fled from the presence of men, was obliged to appear to be a misanthrope although I am so little such.

On God

All things flowed clear and pure out of God. Though often darkly led to evil by passion, I returned, through penance and purification to the pure fountain, — to God, — and to your art. In this I was never impelled by selfishness; may it always be so. The trees bend low under the weight of fruit, the clouds descend when they are filled with salutary rains, and the benefactors of humanity are not puffed up by their wealth.

Just 106 pages long, this Dover publication contains fascinating insight into the mind of the greatest composer of all time, on everything from art to God and nature.  Excerpts are from Kerst and Krehbiel’s book,  Beethoven – the Man and the Artist, as Revealed in his Own Words

Never did my own music produce such an effect upon me; even now when I recall this work it still costs me a tear. (Referring to the Cavatina string quartet in B flat, Opus 130)

 

May 20, 2016

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About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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