Ludwig and I are not the best of friends. In fact, I have a lot of problems with the guy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s super talented but (and this is a BIG but) he annoys me.
Speaking negatively about Beethoven is all but verboten in Classical music circles. He’s like Wotan, the Norse god of freakin everything- and that’s just one of my problems with him. He is the scowling face of three genres of music written before 1950 an he’s not a friendly looking poster boy- or an accurate representation of the breadth of music written in the late Classical, Romantic or early Modern periods.
Yes, yes, I know…he spans those genres, pushes the envelope forward, expanding, enhancing, and ever inspiring other composers to test and push the limits. For that I am grateful to Beethoven but please….don’t force me to like the man.
(Liking Beethoven? I imagine there are fans that would be offended to know there are people in the world who just “like” Beethoven. Real Beethoven fans…LOVE, WORSHIP, ADORE….lay prostrate at his feet, writhing on the cold stone floor in ecstacy.)
Well, I’m sorry if I have offended anyone but Beethoven just isn’t at the top of my composer list. Why? Here’s the short list…
- He enjoys sadistically yanking his audience around
- Romantic orchestras are big and heavy and hot and sweaty and not my cup of tea
- Just when he injects an opium-like theme, he totters off, wandering about aimlessly
- He repeats his stories, over and over and over again
- He’s a pompous old blow-hard. He’s long winded and much of what he “says” is just stuffing
Well, there it is in a nutshell. But hope is not lost. I’m starting to feel kind of bad about bashing Herr Beethoven. Like…maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I just don’t “get” him, yet. Maybe if I take a really good listen to his entire oeuvre, I’ll be sold.
So, as the year of our Lord, 2010 unfolds, I will be dedicating my recreational listening to Ludwig. From alpha to omega, I will listen to everything he ever composed in the hopes of better understanding Beethoven. If anyone can give me insight into his music, childhood, love life, Freudian fantasies or whatnot, please comment. I’m going to need all the help I can get.