Beethoven is King
Ludwig van Beethoven is King. Beethoven is my hero. Beethoven is my musical everything. And I am Schroeder from the Peanuts cartoons, albeit a dark-haired version of the boy with the stripey shirt and toy piano.
I love Mozart too but I tend to have qualifications about Mozart, he the sublime master who passed away a couple of months short of his 36th birthday. Mozart's music, at its very best, is absolutely first-class, and much of his later quintets and concertos read like an honour roll of great music. I'm particularly fond of the master's piano concertos and his quintets for various instruments such as horn & clarinet. The problem with Mozart for me is that, despite the easy listenability of his music and the melodic and harmonic grace he bestows on upon his work, there is something essentially impenetrable about Mozart. I find there is a steeliness to his music that's somewhat difficult to really warm to, or relate to on a deeply emotional level. I almost feel sometimes that Mozart's music is truculent. Although I love a great deal of his work, illumined and enlightened as it is, I find myself rarely completely taken by it.
Beethoven's music, in contrast, is perfect to me. Beethoven was only 14 years Mozart's junior. Yet given the turbulent and rapidly-changing epoch these two men lived through, they in effect worked through two distinct eras and their music is thus a reflection of their particular times. Mozart's music is in effect pre-revolutionary whereas Beethoven's is post-revolutionary. Beethoven was the first great Western musical artist to declare artist's rights. He declared his work to be an artistic statement, to live forever, and lucky for him in his formative years the royal court of Vienna loved music and Beethoven. Mozart, Haydn, & J.S.Bach, all worked and remained subservient courtly or churchly patronage. Haydn enjoyed independent success toward the end of his long life wheras Mozart floundered in his attempts to break free of court patronage, of which relations were mostly strained. Beethoven broke away from strict classicism and allowed his music to breathe with the new aromas of Romanticism. This, coupled with his forcefulness, his urgent need to communicate his soul through his great music, his utter musical articulateness, made for perfect classical music that speaks to the 20th & 21st centuries as well or if not better than it did in the 18th & 19th centuries. I believe him to be the greatest composer of music who ever lived.
Beethoven's piano sonatas mean the world to me. I'd love to buy the complete set. I've not heard all of them but I love all of those I've listened to. My favourite sonata is the Pathetique which is often cited by many people as their favourite Beethoven sonata. To me, Beethoven's piano sonatas are representative of the human condition, relaying to the listener or performer in these remarkable pieces the entire spectrum of human emotionality. Beethoven is open whereas Mozart to me is tight. Beethoven is more wounded, more genuinely melancholy. For me, there is a greater pool of feeling and emotion in Beethoven's music than Mozart's or at least, the expression of it.
Like Beethoven I had a mirthless upbringing. Maybe that's why the man appeals to me so much. I do smile and laugh a lot more that he appeared to that's for sure. By all accounts Beethoven's behaviour and manners deteriorated as he sunk further into deafness and solitude. He was a pretty appalling guy really.
I also love J.S. Bach. I'm very fond of Haydn whose music is extremely enjoyable. I don't like Schubert, except for the Ave Maria. I should like him, just like I should like Neil Finn, but I don't. I just find Schubert annoying and therefore I eschew him. Oh, I don't like Tchaikovsky either because he's such a drama queen, but I like Shostakovich very much.
Why would anyone sing the words "roll over beethoven"....do rockers realise that Beethoven was pure Rock'n'Roll!!! In his early days in Vienna, 1792 onwards, he was known to smash pianos with the sublime force and passion of his playing. He was a punk, a genius punk. If I'd stuck with piano I would have become a Beethoven specialist for he is really my style of music.
Beethoven is King. That second movement of the Pathetique, the sublime Adagio Cantabile, that's what I want played when I exit this world....just make sure that those fortes and fortissimos are played really hard and LOUD! And the adagio melody....make that as sweet and gentle as the love of the earth...