Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Lesser Known Aspect of Beethoven...

We know that Beethoven began to grow deaf around his 28th year, and that total deafness was the inevitable visitor during the latter adult years.
However, one must be reminded that, according to either Thayer or Schindler, or both; it was stated that, from time to time, some hearing would reappear for short periods, and in poor quality.
Generally, from about 1816 he ceased conducting his own compositions, and it is known that in 1824, for instance, he was not able to hear stormy applause from increasingly appreciative audiences.
However, it was reported that in 1822 he returned to a brief period of improvising for friends as only he could, and in 1825 he was able to listen to a performance of his op. 132 quartet.
What torture it must have been for him to be brought back periodically to the world of hearing, impaired as it must have been, then cast back into the darkness of total silence, where the only viable contact with his fellow beings was through his so-called "conversation books," by way of written questions and answers between him and those who dealt with him. Happily, Schindler lovingly kept about 130 of these priceless books after The Master had passed on.
At the end of the day, Beethoven was, of course, the victor in his war - we have his music.

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