- Oct 12, 2018
A lot of great works of arts were born from tragedy, you will find this in music, literature and other art forms. Adversity and strive is a great lubricant for the creative machine. Yet, it does not justify the means. It rather shows the resilience of the human spirit. Someone once told me that without contradiction there can be no life. Without the truly ugly how can one identify the truly glorious. There is a lot to be said for that.This question got me thinking. Beethoven's father was an abusive drunk. It is well documented that he wanted Beethoven to become a child prodigy à la Mozart so that he could profiteer off the child. To this end he forced Beethoven to practice behind the keyboard for many hours of the day and he would hit, sometimes beat, Beethoven when he made mistakes (reportedly he nearly killed the young Beethoven on two occasions). It is said that after a night of drinking with his friends, he would wake up the young Beethoven in the early hours of the morning to show off his son's piano playing skills in front of his drunken friends and would humiliate and hit the boy when he did not perform to expectation. Despite all of this, Beethoven sought emotional refuge in music and went on to become, in my opinion, the greatest musical genius in the history of mankind.
One could speculate that had Beethoven's father not abused him, he might not have gone on to become the great musician that he was, that those many hours spent behind the keyboard learning music during his young formative years might have made the difference between him subsequently becoming the great Ludwig van Beethoven as opposed to merely a talented pianist or moderately good composer. On the one hand, Beethoven's father was a horrible man and what he did was wrong, on the other hand, it may have resulted in a greater good.
And you know the opposite could have happened, even with all that practice and force he could have ended up only a mediocre artist. But, luckily for him he was born with talent. Talent, that could just have easily, if not more easily have been developed in a more nurturing environment.
I think without the difficulties he faced in life, he would still have been a musical genius, it was only that his difficulties gave him the kind of depth in his music, the likes of which I have not quite found in the works of any other composer.