It is said that Beethoven’s Eroica was one of the markers of a turning point in his musical career. Described as a majestic, heroic piece, Symphony #3 differed from many other symphonies composed before. Despite this free and pressing-onward feeling that you get when you listen to this piece, Eroica was composed during one of Beethoven’s most difficult times, when he first recognized that he was losing his hearing.
As I fell deeper into my slump today, feeling stuck because of pent-up frustration, anger and stress, I found myself listening to this Beethoven piece. Listening to this piece in its entirety, I feel I have felt a life’s worth of emotions in nearly an hour’s worth of time. Beethoven is surely a curious a man, one who is revered for the centuries for his accomplishments, and I wondered how a man like him dealt with the daily struggles that I feel day to day. Seeking to connect to his life for even a brief moment, I searched and found Beethoven’s Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter written to his brothers about the despair over his illness:
“But what a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone heard a shepherd singing and again I heard nothing. Such incidents drove me almost to despair; a little more of that and I would have ended my life — it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me. So I endured this wretched existence — truly wretched for so susceptible a body, which can be thrown by a sudden change from the best condition to the very worst. Patience, they say, is what I must now choose for my guide, and I have done so — I hope my determination will remain firm to endure until it pleases the inexorable Parcae to break the thread. Perhaps I shall get better, perhaps not; I am ready.”
Everything starts with a single resolve to do something. Perhaps to be prepared for what’s to come, perhaps to have patience, perhaps to be optimistic. Taking the first step with purpose. Yes, that’s what I need to do. While it’s becoming ever harder to work on my projects after work (and sometimes overtime), it’s a step I need to take.
I sometimes wondered whether Beethoven ever thought of composing music as running away from the things around him, just as I do when I’m working on a composition, writing a script or editing footage. But then I thought, perhaps Beethoven’s way of confronting these obstacles was through his music, to overcome them by doing what needed to be done. Likewise, I need music in my life to de-stress and help lift the stress that arises from work and home.
I need faith, practice, study. And, just solitude. Quietude. Maybe that’s something that’ll have to wait till I’m on my own.
With the same spirit as Beethoven, I’m ready.
- Musings of an Aspiring Filmmaker
“The true artist has no pride; unhappily he realizes that art has no limitations, he feels darkly how far he is from the goal, and while, perhaps he is admired by others, he grieves that he has not yet reached the point where the better genius shall shine before him like a distant sun.” — Ludwig van Beethoven