One of the books in my collection of music literature is entitled The Spiritual Lives of Great Composers by Patrick Kavanaugh. It consists of 12 chapters, each a researched essay about the spiritual beliefs of a particular composer. A few selected are Beethoven, Dvorak, Bach and Ives.
It is difficult to know what was in the heart of each of these men, but the author seems to do a pretty good job of discovering their beliefs by studying personal letters/journals and accounts given by contemporaries. There are many footnoted references that are interesting to read.
I turned to the chapter on Beethoven in reviewing the book for this post, and I have been reminded of his love of God, a desire to do good and frequent battles with opposition, all of which are reflected in his music. I think his life reflects great irony, the most apparent being the birth of his most masterful compositions while deaf. This leaves me not only in awe of Beethoven, but wondering how he possibly could have continued without faith in a loving God....and what faith he must have exercised!!
Sometimes I wonder if he would have composed as well if he had been able to hear. I think not. At the very least, deafness affected the character of his music. His late works simply would not have sounded the same without the deafness.
In the end he was victorious as a musician under extraordinary conditions, and I think he must have struggled and endured spiritually as well.
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