The first time I visited the British Museum in 89 one item that captivated me was the autograph of Beethoven. Alongside was that of Mozart. The tidiness of the latter was totally missing in the work of Beethoven. Comparing these is easier than analyzing why one is distinct from the other.
Yet both have been essential to me. Though I have no musical training to appreciate the merits of a composer from his style, in the manner one uses melodic, rhythmic or textural elements, my responses to both composers have been varied. Whereas one has smoothed my troubled spirit by life’s inconsequential hammerings, as an infant satiated by it mother’s milk, Beethoven has supplied more than ample muscle to keep me going through day’s chore. I require both. Even as I get on with tasks on hand, snatches of his themes are ever in my mind. I can smooth day to my liking.
Is there anything that I may pick out from works of Beethoven as infinitely of high order than others? Given the temperament and cast of my mind second movement in symphonies, the slow movements touch me deeper than others. Whatever I may be doing while the music goes on the background I pause in order to take the delicious passages: Seventh symphony, the third piano concerto are cases in point.
After becoming acquainted with his music for years my ear can note development of a theme, tonic major and minor relationships how bits and pieces of it are scattered throughout the work. Such juxtapositions of key and dynamics give the piece its variety; themes when restated are like memory playing tricks, a sunny brisk passage when restated is in minor key nevertheless balance is achieved. His music almost mirrors life in that that sunny outlook of a child derived from its influences may be transformed by tragic aspects of life. But such major minor relationships do not make life seen separately; overall unity of a Beethoven symphony is in its variety despite the motive force of life merely lets each of us to touch highs and lows of joy and sorrow. If the music has its structure and unity is neither of joy nor of sorrow of life can be isolated. They are part of a design. As long man is subject to such tempests of life music of Beethoven must be relevant to him.
As long as my ears can note the difference between a violin and drum I shall listen to Beethoven. If totally deaf with age I hope my memory shall continue to give my ruined state some semblance of sparkle. I shall end with a quotation of Lenin, ‘I know nothing which is greater than the Appassionato…It is marvelous, superhuman music. I always think with pride –perhaps it is naïve of me-what marvelous things human beings can do. (Maxim Gorky-Days with Lenin)’
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Merely because my world is compromised by actions that have gone before do I join with the rest or stand apart? There cannot be a single rule. To each his own.
The saint who goes out and lives in a desert is not freed from the taint of the world. St.Simon of Stiles lived on a column and you know what? His ‘sanctity’ merely found use for a cultural artifact of the pagan world. He is since then associated with something of a world that he abhorred with heart and soul.
We direct our viewpoints in a way we become relevant in time and place.
Lev Trotsky th founder of The Red Army was a very good organizer, whom Lenin had named as his successor to lead the Communist party. But Joseph Stalin as the General Secretary of the Communist party worked behind the scenes and had the rank and file behind him. In the power struggle that followed after Lenin was laid by a stroke, found Stalin in power. Stalin and Trotsky had different viewpoints as to the direction the party should take. It was irreconcilable and could only end in defeat for the one who was chosen by none other than Lenin himself. Had the Communist Party known that whom they backed would one day turn back on them and wipe them all do you think they would have helped the Great Psychopath?
Tailspin: Trouble with time is that it hides where your real interest ought to lie. We often make a mess of our Essential Selves in order to be like everyone else.
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In the story of Pegasus (post of Sept 2) the eyes of the bionic horse represent the rider’s absolute position from which he could have seen something unusual or Truth. His lifetime habit somehow came in between. Our habits and our experience often deceive us. We only see what we want to see.
A viewpoint must be rooted on something far beyond the temporal, Let us take the examples of two, Paul Cezanne and VI Lenin.
Paul Cezanne’s father, a prosperous banker from Aix, was dead against his taking up art as his career. But Paul refused to budge from his stand. He wanted to become a painter. Even there he did not wish to become just another painter, letting himself led through paces, as every conventional painter of his day would have done. He thought of representing Nature in his canvas in terms of geometrical shapes. Cezanne had a viewpoint.
You and I have viewpoint that shall never match totally. For this simple reason we compete one another. However fierce it may be, our viewpoints draw relevance from our world around us. Our success also directly depends on it. In time and place.
Do we hide our best part, Truth or dissemble for gaining our objectives? Do we play to the audience or we stand for our principles? For many of us we pursue success, which is fleeting and insubstantial. Do we hide the truth of our very being for some gains that lose its significance sooner or later? Lenin struggled his entire life to change Russia and he succeeded in creating a Soviet empire. But who would have thought the whole ideology would come crashing down within some eighty years? The godless empire in which ‘the end justified the means’ was merely a hiccup, a flash in the pan.
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