When I was seven years old I was listening to music like Fats Domino, Elvis, KISS, etc. Oldies but goodies today. It would be in my seventh year that I would begin taking piano lessons. It would also be this year that I would be introduced to classical music. I had no idea who Beethoven was, let alone Mozart or Vivaldi. I would soon get to know them, as well as Chopin, Schubert, Brahms, etc. But the knowledge would fade away and the memory of them would fade when I ceased taking lessons when I was eleven. It wouldn’t be until I was 22 that I would rediscover the composer with whom I would end up having a brotherly love affair with. I decided rather than listening to the total trash music I was into at that time, I would switch to classical. I went to the local record store (the LP was still very much alive and kicking at this time – CDs were still 4-5 years away) and decided I would buy Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Of course, I didn’t know the difference between a symphony and a concerto or a string quartet for that matter. I grabbed the first LP that had the number 5 on it and rushed home to listen to my new album. With great anticipation I loaded it onto my turntable and gently placed the needle upon the record. I waited anxiously for those infamous four notes to explode from my speakers.

But instead, this is what I heard…

http://www.hypoxicstudios.com/ext/stuff/emperor.mp3

Now wait a minute…

That’s not what I wanted. But rather than take the LP off the turntable and return to the record store, I sat and listened. I sat and listened to the most incredible music my ears had ever heard. For this was something I had never in my life heard. It was the Piano Concerto No. 5 by Beethoven. It was beautiful, powerful. Tears erupted from my eyes as I was overwhelmed by the incredible majesty of this piece of music – let alone the tender and yearning sound of the second movement. Surely someone had intended me to hear this rather than the usual Beethoven everyone knew. From that moment on, I was a die hard…hard core…Beethoven fanatic.

I started buying up anything and everything by Beethoven. I couldn’t stop listening to his works, every single new piece (to me that is) would bring me such immense feelings of happiness. I began buying books on the master, scores of his music, a marble bust from Italy that cost me a pretty penny. Then in 2002 something amazing came my way. An artist had been granted exclusive access to Beethoven’s 1812 life mask. The Beethoven Society granted this artist permission to make a casting of the mask. He was then permitted to make a limited number of authentic copies of the mask. I found out about it I was all over it. $1500 later I had one of these rare masks in my hands. It was eery holding the head of the master. But it also brought him closer to me, that he truly was someone I could see rather than just a painting. Sadly photography hadn’t been invented before Beethoven’s death in 1827, so this mask was the only true representation of what he looked like.

People think I am nuts or biased. But for some reason I feel a connection with Beethoven that runs deep into my soul. No other composer can get me going crazy over music as Beethoven can. Eventually I became the proud owner of the Complete Beethoven Edition by Deutsche-Grammophon. Every note that exists in a huge CD set.

It was Beethoven that inspired me to become a composer myself. It is Beethoven that makes my bad days better. I give thanks to God that He created such a magnificent man and graced him with the gift to compose the most incredible music ever written. The man himself may be lost to eternity, but his music – a part of his very soul – still resides here and fills our ears and our hearts with his very being.

Beethoven is my immortal beloved.

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