Ode to Beethoven

We’re all still sick, so Lydia spent most of the day on the iPad. When Mary is sick, she does not tolerate being ignored, so I spent all of my time playing with Mary (while she was awake). When she napped, I should have switched gears and played with Lydia, but instead I practiced, did homework, and finished Beethoven’s biography.

There are so many scenes from that book I hope I never forget. Obviously, the premier of the ninth symphony is practically common knowledge, but still, reading about how Beethoven stood there furiously conducting the music in his head even after the music had finished made me choke up. Also, did you know that the Kreutzer sonata was originally dedicated to a violinist named George Bridgetower? He was a British violinist with an African father and British mother, and he was such a virtuoso on the violin that Beethoven interrupted a public performance to embrace and congratulate him. He promised the dedication of this sonata to Bridgetower, but in an after-concert celebration, Bridgetower made a crude joke about a woman, and Beethoven withdrew the dedication on the spot. Instead, he dedicated it to a violinist (last name Kreutzer), who claimed the piece was unplayable and never played it. Bridgetower regretted losing that dedication to his dying day.

Another favorite anecdote from the book comes from Beethoven’s meeting with Goethe. Beethoven had long admired Goethe, but was disgusted when Goethe made a show of bowing to royalty on one of their joint walks. Goethe was horrified at Beethoven’s lack of propriety (Beethoven angrily jammed down his hat and stormed off) and in a later letter lamented Beethoven’s poor etiquette. The incident positively warmed my heartstrings toward Beethoven and made me dislike Goethe (with whose works I am not familiar at all, anyway). In Beethoven’s words, Goethe was too moved by “things that glitter.”

Also, when Beethoven was at one of his patron’s estates, some occupying French soldiers came to dinner. Beethoven’s patron and the soldiers implored Beethoven to play for them, but Beethoven, who hated to play on demand anyway and who detested French soldiers, ended up storming out of the house, the manuscript for¬†The Appassionata¬†in hand, and caught a coach back to Vienna in the pouring rain. The original score has clear water stains from the trip. He told his prince patron, “There will always be plenty of princes in the world, but there is only one Beethoven.”

Anyway–wrong venue! I should be writing in Goodreads, but I am cheating because I need to get to bed and I didn’t do much else today.

I did go to class again tonight and worked again on knife skills and stock. I am going to need to practice a lot if I ever hope to be competent with a knife.

Here are some pictures I took during a rare moment this morning when Lydia was not on the iPad.

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