Ludwig van Beethoven

What you ought to have while reading this page is the Emperor Concerto in quadraphonic sound. Since I lack the technical ability to make that happen, I’ll give you instead the estimate of the eminent Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians on Beethoven:

From his success at combining tradition and exploration and personal expression he came to be regarded as the dominant musical figure of the nineteenth century, and scarcely any significant composer since his time has escaped his influence or failed to acknowledge it. For the respect his works have commanded of musicians, and the popularity they have enjoyed among wider audiences, he is probably the most admired composer in the history of Western music. -- Grove Dictionary of Music (2nd ed., vol. 3, p. 73)

And, since I did a piece on Goethe a few days ago, here’s Goethe’s comment on Beethoven:

His talent amazed me; unfortunately he is an utterly untamed personality, who is not altogether in the wrong in holding the world to be detestable but surely does not make it any the more enjoyable either for himself or for others by his attitude. He is easily excused, on the other hand, and much to be pitied, as his hearing is leaving him, which perhaps mars the musical part of his nature less than the social. --Goethe (ibid., p. 86)

In researching this piece on Beethoven, I was vividly reminded that artists (like Hollywood actors) can produce remarkable work, even though their explicit philosophy is defective, depraved, or startlingly superficial. To make the point, here’s a mixed bag of Beethoven quotes gathered from a Google search:

Music, verily, is the mediator between intellectual and sensuous life... the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend.

I have never thought of writing for reputation and honor. What I have in my heart must come out; that is the reason why I compose.

I shall seize Fate by the throat; it shall certainly not bend and crush me completely.

When I open my eyes I must sigh, for what I see is contrary to my religion, and I must despise the world which does not know that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.

To play without passion is inexcusable!

Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman.

Nothing is more intolerable than to have to admit to yourself your own errors.

Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.

Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience.

The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, "Thus far and no farther."

What you are, you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am by myself. There are and will be a thousand princes; there is only one Beethoven.

Why Beethoven in Central Park?

Concerts in Central Park were popular with the city’s German-American immigrants. The Beethoven Mannerchor, which often performed in the park, commissioned this monument to Beethoven in 1884. Bearer later sculpted a similar bust for Prospect Park’s Concert Grove (near the Wollman Skating Rink).


For the Beethoven in Prospect Park, see here.