Robert Peters replies to me:
>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 music?
Whether I do or not is beside the point. I can easily imagine other
reasons for writing Fidelio and the Ninth, other than the ones you
mention, if that's what you mean. Indeed, I've given some of them in a
previous post. As for his hearing problems, I can certainly imagine
that they spurred him on to write very LOUD music, but they don't come
close to accounting for an inspiration to the Eighth, the piano sonata
op. 110, the last string quartet, the Bundeslied, the Elegische Gesang,
or the late Bagatelles. For all either one of us knows, maybe the hearing
problems are relevant, or maybe they're not.
>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.
You've met both men, of course. I'm sorry. You're simply telling me
you like Brahms better than Liszt, I would suspect because you prefer
the music of one to the other. Your preference is yours, but I still
say that writing a bad piece of music isn't necessarily a failure of
character and more often a failure of talent.
>>... 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
Then I obviously misunderstood you. I thought you were saying
>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
There were lots of paeans to liberty in democratic societies at the
time. It was something in the air in both Europe and North America. The
difference is that none of them were written by composers of Beethoven's
caliber. In fact, there's a lot of celebratory talk in the US right now
about "liberty and freedom," much of it from the people doing their best
to limit it. Thus, talking about Beethoven's *motives* (he "felt the
need") seems to me a bit curious.
>Like a Kafka without neuroses and a nicer father would
>have written pretty different stories.
I've got a wonderful father, and I used to write Kafka-esque stuff,
mostly because I admired Kafka and wanted to see if I could make something
like that. I couldn't, but I doubt it was the accident of my particular
father. It was probably because I wasn't as good a writer.