Beethoven & The Blind Girl

“Assume a virtue, if you have it not”*

In the context in which I’m using it here, a virtue can be any empowering feeling or emotion that enhances your life. In this example – enthusiasm.

It takes enthusiasm to succeed in most worthwhile endeavours, and the lack thereof will usually doom you to failure before you even begin. By using the law of assumption you assume a state of mind, then act accordingly, and soon you are one with the feeling.

In Pushing To The Front {<Free Copy} Orison Swett Marden imparts a story that I love, taken from the biography of Beethoven. It’s about how the great composer came to write my favorite classical piece “Moonlight Sonata”. It’s also a great example of the power of enthusiasm.

“One moonlight evening in winter, we were walking through a narrow street of Bonn. ‘Hush!’ said the great composer, suddenly pausing before a little, mean dwelling, ‘what sound is that? It is from my Sonata in F. Hark! how well it is played.’

“In the midst of the finale there was a break, and a sobbing voice cried: ‘I cannot play anymore. It is so beautiful; it is utterly beyond my power to do it justice. Oh, what would I give to go to the concert at Cologne!’

‘Ah! my sister’, said a second voice; ‘why create regrets when there is no remedy? We can scarcely pay our rent.’ ‘You are right,’ said the first voice , ‘ and yet I wish for once in my life to hear some really good music. But it is of no use.’

“‘ Let us go in,’ said Beethoven. ‘Go in!’ I said; ‘what should we go in for?’ ‘I will play to her,’ replied Beethoven in an excited tone; ‘here is feeling, – genius, – understanding! I will play to her, and she will understand it.

‘Pardon me,’ Beethoven said as he opened the door and saw a young man sitting by a table, mending shoes, and a young girl leaning sorrowfully upon an old-fashioned piano; ‘I heard music and was tempted to enter. I am a musician. I – I also overheard something of what you said. You wish to hear – that is, you would like – that is – shall I play for you?’

“‘Thank you,’ said the shoemaker, ‘but our piano is so wretched, and we have no music.’

”No music!’ said the composer; ‘how, then, does the young lady – I – I entreat your pardon,’ he added, stammering as he saw that the girl was blind; ‘I had not perceived before. Then you play by ear? But where do you hear the music, since you frequent no concerts?’

“‘We lived at Bruhl for two years; and, while there, I used to hear a lady practicing near us. During the summer evenings her windows were generally open, and I walked to and fro outside to listen to her.’

“Beethovem seated himself at the piano. Never, during all the years I knew him, did I hear him play better than to that blind girl and her brother. Even the old instrument seemed inspired. The young man and woman sat as if entranced by the magical, sweet sounds that flowed out upon the air in rhythmical swell and cadence, until, suddenly, the flame of the single candle wavered, sank, flickered, and went out. The shutters were thrown open, admitting a flood of brilliant moonlight, but the player paused, as if lost in thought.

“‘Wonderful man!’ said the shoemaker in a low tone; ‘who and what are you?’

“‘Listen!’ replied the master, and he played the opening bars of the Sonata in F. ‘Then you are Beethoven!’ burst from the young people in delighted recognition. ‘Oh, play to us once more,’ they added, as he rose to go, – ‘only once more!’

“‘I will improvise a sonata to the moonlight,’ said he, gazing thoughtfully upon the liquid stars shining so softly out of the depths of a cloudless winter sky. Then he played a sad and infinitely lovely movement, which crept gently over the instrument, like the calm flow of moonlight over the earth.

This was followed by a wild, elfin passage in triple time – a sort of grotesque interlude, like the dance of the fairies upon the lawn. Then came a swift agitated ending – a breathless, hurrying, trembling movement, descriptive of flight, and uncertainty, and vague impulsive terror, which carried us away on its rustling wings, and left us all in emotion and wonder.

‘Farewell to you,’ he said, as he rose and turned toward the door. ‘You will come again? asked the hosts in a breath. ‘Yes, yes,’ said Beethoven hurriedly, ‘I will come again, and give the young lady some lessons. Farewell!’

Then to me he added: ‘Let us make haste back, that I may write out that sonata while I can yet remember it.’ We did return in haste, and not until long past the dawn of day did he rise from his table with the full score of the Moonlight Sonata in his hand.”

Can you get inside of it and feel it?

– The Unknown Musician.

Quotes – * William Shakespeare

 

 

© 2017, Herb Norcott. All rights reserved.

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