Beethoven and Haydn

Hoshino . . . returned to his biography. Beethoven, he learned, was a proud man who believed absolutely in his own abilities and never bothered to flatter the nobility. Believing that art itself, and the proper expression of emotions, was the most sublime thing in the world, he thought political power and wealth served only one purpose: to make art possible. When Haydn boarded with a noble family, as he did most of his professional life, he had to eat with the servants. Musicians of Haydn's generation were considered employees. (The unaffected and good-natured Haydn, though, much preferred this arrangement to the stiff and formal meals put on by the nobility.)

Beethoven, in contrast, was enraged by any such contemptuous treatment, on occasion smashing things against the wall of anger. He insisted that as far as meals went he be treated with no less respect than the nobility he ostensibly served. He often flew off the handle, and once angry was hard to calm down. On top of this were radical political ideas that he made no attempt to hide. As his hearing deteriorated, these tendencies became even more pronounced. As he aged his music also became both more expansive and more densely inward looking. Only Beethoven could have balanced these two contrasting tendencies. But the extraordinary effort this required had a progressively deleterious effect on his life, for all humans have physical and emotional limits, and by this time the composer had more than reached his. . . .

"Yeah, I've been reading a biography of Beethoven," Hoshimo replied. "I like it. His life really gives you a lot to think about."

Oshima nodded. "He went through a lot -- to put it mildly."

"He did have a tough time," Hoshino said, "but I think it was mainly his fault. I mean, he was so self-centered and uncooperative. All he thought about was himself and his music, and he didn't mind sacrificing whatever he had to for it. He must've been tough to get along with. Hey, Ludwig, gimme a break! That's what I would have said if I knew him. No wonder his nephew went off his rocker. But I have to admit his music is wonderful. It really gets to you. It's a strange thing."

"Absolutely," Oshima agreed.

"But why did he have to live such a hard, wild life? He would've been better off with a more normal type of life."

Oshima twirled the pencil around in his fingers. "I see your point, but by Beethoven's time people thought it was important to express the ego. Earlier, when there was an absolute monarchy, this would've been considered improper, socially deviant behavior and suppressed quite severely. Once the bourgeoisie came to power in the nineteenth century, however, that suppression came to an end and the individual ego was liberated to express itself. Freedom and the emancipation of the ego were synonymous. And art, music in particular, was at the forefront of all this. Those who came after Beethoven and lived under his shadow, so to speak -- Berlioz, Wagner, Liszt, Schumann -- all lived eccentric, stormy lives. Eccentricity was seen as almost the ideal lifestyle. The age of Romanticism, they called it. Though I'm sure living like that was pretty hard on them at times. So, do you like Beethoven's music?"

-- Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore, tr. Philip Gabriel (New York: Vintage, 2005), 376-8.


Aah (1953)
Aradhana (1969)
Awaara (1951)
Barsaat (1949)
Do Raaste (1969)
Farz (1967)
Gumnaam (1965)
Gunga Jumna (1961)
Haqeeqat (1964)
Jewel Thief (1967)
Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960)
Junglee (1961)
Khamoshi (1969)
Mera Naam Joker (1970)
Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hain (1965)
Mughal E Azam (1960)
Naya Daur (1957)
Ram Aur Shyam (1967)
Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962)
Sangam (1964)
Sangdil (1952)
Shree 420 (1955)
Sunghursh (1968)
Teen Deviyan (1965)


Princess Sparkle Pony’s Photo Blog.
Harriet Miers’s Weblog. The Potted Meat Museum. Association of International Glaucoma Societies. “In this frame of mind it occurred to me to put the question directly to myself: ‘Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institution and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?’ And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, “No!” At this my heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down.” — John Stuart Mill. Classic Hawaiian music. September 10, 2005 was World Naked Gardening Day. Franz’s website. INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY WEBSITE. One Global Communty. The Tax History Museum. Improv Everywhere. The Official Flat Stanley Project.