The man Beethoven died in 1827 but there is no doubt in my mind that the spirit of Beethoven’s music will live forever.
Beethoven was baptized in Bonn (now Germany) on December 17th so it is assumed that December 16th is his birthday.
Beethoven was a man of his times: rebellious, anti-establishment, etc. But more than just a rebel, Beethoven was a humanist who believed in the universality of all mankind. Just like the founders of our Country, Beethoven was a true believer in the inalienable rights of people. Beethoven really believed in the goodness of humanity and the fact that we are all brothers and sisters.
This afternoon I came across the site for a yet-to-be-released movie about Beethoven: Following the Ninth. The short trailer on this site offers a moving explanation of what Beethoven and his music still means to our modern, hi-tech world.
Musically, Beethoven was a phenomenon. He wrote so much wonderful music that you would, literally, need more than a forty hour week to play through or listen to just the really good pieces. You would need another week to play through the “pretty good” stuff as well. He was a true genius.
Although our modern culture has become anti-Classical music in recent years, I think that there is an inalienable inner longing for the type of music that Beethoven wrote. That explains how many hits on Beethoven still gets on You Tube:
Moonlight Sonata = 25,569,302 views
Fur Elise = 12,544,978 views
Ninth Symphony = 8,567,232 views
Fifth Symphony = 2,136,104 views
And these are the number of views for a single version of each title. Each one has numerous other versions on YouTube with significant viewing numbers of their own.
The American conductor Leonard Bernstein was a great communicator of the value of Classical music. Believe it or not, he was a regular on network television — not PBS — and his “Young People’s Concerts” were a major influence on my own development as a musician and teacher. Here is Bernstein’s brilliant introduction to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from the Ninth Symphony:
Here is a more complete performance of the end of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with no commentary performed in by Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic a number of years ago. Good stuff.
So, do your soul some good and either play or listen some Beethoven on this glorious day!