Beethoven is certainly one of the most famous, revered and influential composers of all time. He’s always been enormously popular in Canadian concert halls, but this summer marks an especially high point in our nation's Beethoven fascination. Marathon Beethoven performances have taken place in Toronto and Vancouver in the past few weeks, and there is still one to come at Le Festival de Lanaudiere in Joliette.
But what gives Beethoven so much staying power?
Perhaps the answer to that begins with one crucial and deeply personal resolution made by the great man himself: to break free from the chains of musical patronage in order to have the freedom to create whatever his soul dictated.
And thus, the creation of music was forever changed by Beethoven’s musical emancipation.
Perhaps the other contributing factor to the world’s long-standing love affair with Beethoven is that he suffered. A lot. Beethoven was plagued by horrible health issues and a cruel deafness, which all led to feelings of loneliness and depression. But Beethoven persevered to create music that transcends suffering.
For composers and musicians who followed, Beethoven laid the foundation for freedom of musical expression. Beethoven had the courage to feel. For me, that's what makes Beethoven a hero.
So next time you hear Madonna’s "Express Yourself" or see old footage of Elvis the Pelvis swinging those hips, stop, take a moment, look up to heaven and say: "Thank you, Louis."
Join Tempo this morning for an all-Beethoven program at 9:00/9:30NT on CBC Radio 2.
Stewart Goodyear's Beethoven marathan at Luminato
Concerts on Demand: Jan Lisiecki: Beethoven & Bach
on Jun 11, 2012