We find it interesting that a musical genius such as Beethoven was frustrated by the way music critics reacted to his timeless music. That’s what the quote in the above meme relays.
Here is the quote:
“A true artist is expected to be all that is noble-minded, and this is not altogether a mistake, on the other hand, however, in what a mean way are critics allowed to pounce upon us.”
One really gets a sense of his frustration from the above quote. Additionally, we would love to know just what type of criticism was given to him by his critics, so we did a little digging.
This is what a Bostonian had to say about the Ninth Symphony. Thankfully Beethoven never read this particular one since he had been dead for approximately 72 years.
“We heard lately in Boston the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven. The performance was technically most admirable… But is not worship paid this Symphony mere fetishism? Is not the famous Scherzo insufferably long-winded? The Finale… is to me for the most part dull and ugly… I admit the grander of the passage ‘und der Cherub steht vor Gott’ and the effect of ‘Seid umschlungen Millionen!’ But oh, the pages of stupid and hopelessly vulgar music! The unspeakable cheapness of the chief tune, ‘Freude, Freude!’
(Philip Hale, Musical Record, Boston, June 1, 1899)
The finale that Mr. Hale calls “dull and ugly” happens to be Ode to Joy.
In the rare event that you are unfamiliar with his Ninth Symphony, here is a video of it.
We should mention that Ludwig began to lose his hearing at the age of 26. He began composing his Ninth Symphony in the Spring of 1823 and had it completed in January of 1824, in his mid fifties, only a few years before his death in March of 1827. This was the last symphony that he composed.
Here is what one critic had to say about Beethoven’s Second Symphony:
“Beethoven’s Second Symphony is a crass monster, a hideously writhing wounded dragon, that refuses to expire, and though bleeding in the Finale, furiously beats about with its tail erect.”
(Zeitung fur die Elegente Welt, Vienna, May 1804)
You might want to make up your own mind on the quality of Beethoven’s composition of the Second Symphony by hearing it here:
In our time we think of Beethoven as a genius composer and we can’t really find any flaws in his music, but evidently it wasn’t so in the 18th and 19th centuries, his music straddled both centuries. Ludwig van Beethoven was born on December of 1770 and died on March 26, 1827.
One can’t help but wonder and imagine the works he might have created if he hadn’t experienced partial hearing loss. He didn’t lose all hearing, but any loss of hearing is tragic to a musician. However, keep in mind that he composed the Ninth Symphony, his final symphony, at the end of his career, only a few years before his death. We also wonder if today’s medical knowledge might have helped him.
When he died letters were found concerning his suicidal feelings, the letters were obviously never sent. These letters alluded to his desperation over the loss of his hearing which he felt began after a quarrel with a singer in 1798. That must have been some quarrel for him to feel that it was the cause of his hearing loss.