Steve Schwartz wrote:
>Robert Peters iterates:
>>Beethoven would have written different music if he had had a loving wife
>>and no hearing problems or had lived just fifty years later.
>Really, what makes you think so, other than your conviction that biography
>and character show up in music?
Experience. Do you really think that Beethoven would have felt the need
to so empathically express his desire for freedom (eg in Fidelio and the
Ninth Symphony) without the experience of living in a deeply
undemocratic society? And do you really think that without the
loneliness forced upon him by his hearing problems had no effects on his
>>Schubert would have written different music if he had had a happy
>>marriage and had lived in a more democratic society. And Liszts music
>>would have been different without his vanity (and I know that theres
>>also the Liszt who touchingly cared for other composers and poor people).
>>Classical music like any art isnt created in a vacuum, it is made by
>>living, breathing people under biographical and historical influences.
>Yes, but . . . I'm reminded of a (garbled) quote from some well-known
>novelist, whose name escapes me right now: "Artists create from complex
>*artistic* reasons, as well as complex personal ones." I just don't see
>how you can draw the personal connection without simply begging the
>question. In other words, lots of composers have been vain (Brahms,
>Beethoven, Mahler, Wagner, Schoenberg, and Webern come quickly to mind),
>but only one composer was Liszt. I find the difference more significant
>than the similarity.
I never said that Liszt only consists of vanity. I just said that I
think that vanity was the prominent feature in him, more prominent than
in Brahms for example.
>>And I find it totally thrilling and thought-provoking to learn about
>>these influences and thus understand and enjoy music more.
>I. B. Singer once remarked notoriously that he wouldn't have crossed
>the street to meet Tolstoy, one of his literary heroes. He later relented
>by saying that he might have crossed the street, but he wouldn't have
>taken a bus. Different strokes, I guess. I suppose I'm somewhere in
>the middle. I find almost any discussion of music and personality close
>to meaningless, but the music in terms of the culture at large fascinates
>me. Beethoven's idealistic Republicanism not only is a product of the
>intellectual fallout of the French and American revolutions, but also
>contributes to and shapes the temper of the times.
That is what I wrote: Beethoven without his need to be so extremely
republican would have been a different Beethoven and would have written
different music. Like a Kafka without neuroses and a nicer father would
have written pretty different stories.