"I want to grab fate by the throat."

Beethoven, born in Bonn in 1770, grew up in a time of genius cult. His extraordinary musical talent was noticed at a very young age. Beethoven moved to Vienna to "get Mozart's spirit out of Haydn's hands" and thus to be initiated into the "spirit of musical art". In fact, Beethoven continues Haydn's ideal - fulfillment of the classical, richness of thought, cohesiveness, uniqueness and universal validity. The most essential difference to Haydn was Beethoven's unconditional will to change the situation decisively. In his work he sought the direct confrontation with fate in order to conquer it.

As a young, already composing piano virtuoso, he came to terms with the Viennese aristocracy in an unconventional way, according to Beethoven interpreter Fr. von Bernhard: “He spoke very much in dialect, as his nature did not reveal anything about external education (...) rather he was immoderate in all his manners and behavior. Beethoven was restless, moved frequently and lived in dozens of homes within a few years. At this time the first sonatas, symphonies and concerts were written. But with works as light as the 2nd Symphony, one overlooks the fact that Beethoven was already gloomy, desperate and depressed in his heart. In the writing of the Heiligenstadt Testament, he flirted with extremes mainly because of his increasing deafness. Nevertheless, Beethoven resisted his supposed fate. Beethoven saw almost every one of his works empathically as a new possible milestone on the way to the noble and the better, with all its possible consequences. He had a very tense relationship with the Viennese, who barely understood Beethoven's highlights of his oeuvre such as the middle symphonies and late piano sonatas, no longer understood his late works at all, and rather clearly preferred interpreters and composers like Paganini, Rossini, etc. "I don't play for such pigs".

Numerous anecdotes about his unbearable behavior on the one hand, and monuments depicting the hero of art on the other hand, give eloquent testimony to this day of the dichotomy between the uncultivated private individual and the outstanding artist. However, these and similar human contours did not fit into the image of the mighty hero, as which Beethoven was seen up until the twentieth century. Beethoven, who was viewed as hostile, misanthropic and stubborn, was completely misunderstood in his tenderness, outstanding philanthropy and sociability.

Beethoven 'composed' the stages of his illness, and his temporary recoveries, like no other artist before him, such as the still wondrously inconceivable and slow movement from the late string quartet op. 132. The illness, also long unclearly described as "pelvic pain", was cirrhosis of the liver that ultimately led to death, which was the result of constant but never excessive alcohol consumption. According to recent studies, the famous deafness was probably the result of poisoning with lead, which was often used as a sweetener for red wine in Beethoven's time.

Aldous Huxley wrote about op. 132, which Beethoven composed when he had just recovered from a serious illness and thanked the gods for it: “Slowly, slowly the melody unfolded. The archaic Lydian harmonies floated in the air. It was passionless music, transparent, pure and crystal like a tropical sea, like an alpine lake. Water over water, calm that glided over calm: the chordal connection of undulating expanses and flat horizons, a counterpoint to quiet bliss. And everything clear and bright; no fog, no hazy twilight.” Beethoven, who can still and forever be discovered and experienced ...

Author: Stefan Fuchs (Digital translation corrected by Manfred Hecking)