Tim’s Thought For The Day : Beethoven blog

Thought for the day: 

By Tim Healy

So, here’s a story I heard or read about when I was at music school:

Beethoven and Goethe were out for a typical walk, during the day, as was conventional in the old days. As they were walking, the trail narrowed a bit. Approaching them was the Austrian Empress, Maria Ludovica and her entourage, a larger than life figure and an “important person”. Goethe doffed his hat while Beethoven pulled his own hat down deeper over his face, not giving way. Beethoven bawled Goethe out for his subservient behavior. Later, Goethe, who was most aghast, said to him, “Didn’t you see who was coming?” Beethoven’s reply was, “Didn’t she see who was coming?”

Now I don’t know if that’s a true story or just a story, but the thought of it last night remained with me and I got to wondering…

“What was Ludwig Van Beethoven’s nickname, or did he even have one?”

Would he have been so serious that you couldn’t call him Luddy, or Van or Viggie, or the Ludmeister, or the Ludmobile? Would he have been a Cubs fan, rooting for them in this World Series? Would you invite him out for lunch and in the middle of the lunch, say, “Hey, Ludmeister, would you pass me the mustard?” And would he even do it? I think if I did invite him for lunch, at his best choice of a restaurant, it would be a minimum courtesy to pass the condiments, if you know what I mean.

In the cold light of history, we hear that he had a nephew and a wild sister and a fairly imperious father and he was one impressive piano composer and player. We hear that he sold his written works in different countries at the same time, with little regard to international copyright, if there was one.

It must have been incredibly daunting to lose one’s sense of hearing…even more since he was a practicing musician. How frustrating to try to conduct and have to wonder if the players are really in tune, or what? And according to my understanding, his deafness was curable if he were in our time.

But his most famous motif, the beginning of the 5th Symphony, maybe It’s a future looking phrase, “Don’t kid your Self!”