In Vienna in 1732, a bakery was opened in Probusgasse (street) in the 19th district. In the summer of 1802, a scruffy, bad-tempered geek moved into the apartment behind the bakery. From then on, the piano sound floated out of the bakery.
In the 21st century, the European Union decided to use the “Ode to Joy” of the No. 9 symphony written by the geek as its official anthem. Have you guessed who this geek is?
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in 1770. When he was 17 years old, he first time came to Vienna to meet Mozart. The second time he came to Vienna, when he was 22, he planned to worship Haydn as a teacher. In 1792, Beethoven decided to move to Vienna, where he lived until his death in 1827.
The apartments in the city in the 18th century had a social class distinction. The ground floor was full of shops or studios, and the nobles and wealthy people lived on the first and second floors. Above these floors would be young civil servants and students. The top floor was usually occupied by very poor people, so when Beethoven first arrived in Vienna, he had to live there. Later, because of the financial support of the aristocrats, he was able to move to the first floor to live.
Beethoven worked in a very disciplined manner, usually composing in the morning and taking a walk in the afternoon. In the 19th district of Vienna, above Heiligenstadt (holy city), there is a path he used to walk along the creek, now known as the Beethovengang.
He loved nature, and his No. 6 symphony, also known as the “pastorale”, was inspired by the scene of a farmer he saw working in a field while walking.
“You will ask, where does my musical inspiration come from? I can’t say exactly: it is uninvited, directly or indirectly. I almost grabbed them and caught them in the arms of nature, in the woods. During the stroll, when the night is quiet, when the dawn of the heavens breaks, it should be created by the moment and emotion. In the heart of the poet, it becomes a language, and in my heart it turns into music. The sound, the roar, the waves rise until the final embodiment becomes various notes.”
Beethoven not only personally named the Sixth Symphony as the “pastorale”, but also added a title to each movement. His music is more than painted. The addition of text enriches the performance of music and makes it more visual.
Many musicians must face the fate of frequent relocation because their neighbours cannot tolerate the unending sound of instruments. But Beethoven’s personality was violent, and often the neighbours would come to talk to him and quarrel. This caused him to move 63 times. This is also the side of his real personality, whether it was his being extremely picky about eggs or insisting on using exactly 60 beans when making coffee.
As a musician, the most painful thing is that you can’t hear anything. There will be newborn, aging, illness and death in life, and Beethoven has also gone through the path that everyone has to. When his ears began to degenerate, he came to Heiligenstadt, a resort area of a local mineral water bath to heal the growing problem. Beethoven once wrote this will:
“I am determined to remove all obstacles. I believe that fate will not abandon me. I am afraid I need to fully assess my strength. I have to hold the throat of fate.”
But sometimes people can become vulnerable. Beethoven’s mood once fell into a low tide. In the apartment behind the bakery, he wrote a letter to his brother, the so-called Heiligenstadt Testament. But he did not send it out; it was discovered in 1827. The tone in his letter is full of pessimism and despair, showing that his ear problems brought him to suicidal thoughts.
Fortunately, there is music creation, and a vague sense of mission to the world, so he did not go astray. Beethoven’s mental state and his creations were vastly different. The symphony that he wrote at that time was full of enthusiasm and full of praise for life. Through the violence of his father, his mother’s early death, the pressure of his financial situation, the unrequited love of his life and the physical pains, Beethoven turned these blows into positive energy, music with deep thoughts.
In the final No. 9 symphony, Beethoven joined the vocals in an unprecedented way. This pioneering work has allowed future generations to follow him. “Ode to Joy” is familiar to almost everyone today. When the work premiered in Vienna in 1824, Beethoven was completely deaf. He couldn’t even hear the applause of the audience, until the alto got him to turn around and he saw the audience stand up five times and applaud. This heartfelt tribute made Beethoven deeply touched. Whenever I hear the words “alle Menschen werden Brüder”, this music always gave me goose bumps.
Through music people can reach the soul of musicians. Beethoven’s love for the world is presented in his work. Listen, can you feel his enthusiasm and despite his pains, that he did not give up his love for life?
Sitting in the room where Beethoven had lived before, in a Biedermeier building, listening to Beethoven’s work, my heart was so deeply touched. When you are in a low mood or feel pain, can you try listening to Beethoven’s music?
在最後的9號交響曲中貝多芬史無前例的加入人聲。這個創舉讓後世紛紛效法。歡樂頌在今天幾乎大家都耳熟能詳。1824年這個作品在維也納首演時貝多芬已經全聾了。甚至連如雷貫耳的掌聲他都聽不到，一直到女低音讓他轉身他才看到聽眾起立五次瘋狂鼓掌。這種發自內心的致意讓貝多芬深受感動。每當我聽到四海之內皆兄弟(alle Menschen werden Brüder)，這段音樂都會讓我起雞皮疙瘩。
Beethoven 9 – Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Riccardo Muti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOjHhS5MtvA
Beethoven Museum Wien
Probusgasse 6, 1190 Wien