Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beethoven's Ears

I have an earache. Not the nice sort of earache where it's not too bad, you can sit in a chair and be waited on hand and foot until it goes away, and not a violent, head shattering sort. No, it's the sort where you've had the pain, and now you just can't hear out of the ear.

Today was piano lesson day. I sat down at the piano with my deaf ear and attempted to play my pieces. After a quarter of an hour of bumbling my way tonelessly through the pieces, completely failing to add any dynamics, I realised just how hard it is to play music when you can't hear very well.

Then, as I prepared to struggled through one of Beethoven's sonatas, I thought about Beethoven himself. He composed so much beautiful music. When people talk about the great composers, he's right up there in the top ten. Everyone knows about Beethoven.

I always seem to have known that he composed while deaf. It's one of those things I have taken for granted. Beethoven was deaf. He composed music. End of story. Until today, when I realised just how hard it is to play without hearing the music properly.

In musicianship I have to write a short tune, not more than four bars long. And gradually, with much labour, I have learnt to do it without the aid of the piano. But I'm not going to lie, it's been hard work, and listening to the music being played really helps. Plus it's always nice to hear how good the music sounds once you're finished with it.

Yet Beethoven was deaf. he couldn't hear his music when it was played. He composed so much music, and couldn't hear how beautiful his symphonies sounded. There is no worse sense for a musician to lose than his hearing. But it never stopped Beethoven. He just carried right on composing his music as if he could hear every perfect note.

I don't enjoy earache. But even earache has managed to teach me a lesson. Genius can't be stopped. It will find a way to get around any problem. And also that earache is not something I want to have regularly.


  1. It's inspiring to hear such positive stories - life is really a case of how you view it, rather than good and bad luck, isn't it?

    This is a great post, Immy:)

  2. Hi Imogen.
    I found your blog other paper dolls by the serendipity sisters. Do you still do that blog.
    From Melanie xxxooo

  3. Great post. Beethoven's deafness is something I've taken for granted, too, though I don't play piano. Thanks for pointing this out, and sorry about your earache. Hopefully it'll feel better soon, if it hasn't already.