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Beethoven

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tommyedison
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I found out that Ayn Rand said that Beethoven's sense of life was opposite to hers. But if you listen to his music, it is just like Ayn describes Richard Halley's music in Atlas Shrugged. His 9th Symphony 2nd Movement sounds just like Halley's 4th Concerto and the 9th Symphony 4th Movement just like Halley's 5th Concerto. Can anyone tell why she hated Beethoven's music.

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Beethoven once said "Only art and science can bring man to the level of God"

Do you think that Beethoven really believed in a diety or a Christian-type omnipotent God. Or did he think of God as the representation of a perfect human being which was achievable.

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I know nothing about music, first let may say. When I listen to Beethoven, although he is very passionate, I get the feeling that evil and failure are metaphysical absolutes of existence, and humans must make the most of it, striving in futility. Halley, as described, is a rebellion against evil, and the idea of a malevolent universe. His fifth concerto is the triumph, the deliverance, of benevolence over malevolence. When I listen to Rachmoninoff, there is a struggle but the feeling is that it is the struggle of a decade long achievement, like Rearden metal, or Atlas Shrugged, or Microsoft.

But again, I know nothing about music. Ayn Rands favorite music, for which I still have hardly an ear for, is completely free of pain, fear, or guit. It is a joyous laughter, free, in and confirmation of existence.

Americo.

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I think more important than asking why did or didn't Ayn Rand like Beethoven, ask why you do or don't like it. What are you reasons? What values of yours cause you to like it? It's well known that Leonard Peikoff loved Beethoven and told Ayn Rand so. Ayn Rand didn't like Beethoven, for different reasons. Liking or not liking Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmanioff, etc. won't make you an Objectivist or not.

Last years objectivist conference (which I didn't go to) featured a concert that was "a richly melodic program featuring both shorter and larger masterworks by Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Bellini, and others".

I enjoy Beethoven very much, and what I enjoy most when I listen to him is his mastery of technique and the emotionalism. If you listen carefully to many of the themes, however, there is a fairly malevolent streak in many of the symphonies. I would guess that is what Ayn Rand responded to when she heard Beethoven's music.

Some, for example, the ninth symphony are nearly impossible to decipher, in my opinion. It's not heroic, but loud in the first movement. The final movement starts with what Wagner called a "terror fanfare". People interpret it so differently that nationalists, nazis, communists and others have used the ninth in history.

For an interesting book (although one not good at explaining Beethoven's music) on this see:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...898309?v=glance

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Some of Beethoven is dark, but overall he is my favorite composer. His pieces tend to be very simple structurally and melodically, but still incredibly dramatic and moving. Like others here, I'm not a huge fan of the 9th. I'd recommend the first and third movemements of the 3rd "Eroica" symphony, the first three of his 6th symphony, the second movement of his 7th, and the entirety of his 5th "Emperor" piano concerto.

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I think through the dark music, Beethoven wants to portray the struggle of a human being. Note that in a lot of his music, the tempestuous part is mostly followed by a joyful note which according to me indicates the winning and achievement. Additionally, Beethoven never believed in a malevolent universe and failure according to the best of my knowledge. He loved struggle and achievement, was highly idealistic and a great Republican. However I think, he did tend to despise the world because once he said, "I must learn to despise the world which does not understand that music is a higher revelation than philosophy".

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I think through the dark music, Beethoven wants to portray the struggle of a human being. Note that in a lot of his music, the tempestuous part is mostly followed by a joyful note which according to me indicates the winning and achievement.

Though Rachmaninoff remains my favorite composer, I think some of Beethoven's work, especially the sonatas, is some of the most beautiful music ever composed. He does have some work that is virtually free from struggle and just glories in a joyful manner, sweet and sensuous. I have studied Rachmaninoff's life and sometime I will get around to at least becoming more familiar with the life of Beethoven.

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I love to listen to Beethoven's 5th and his Egmont overture...The music moves swiftly, and though there are dark parts I find that they are always followed up by something brilliantly bright and uplifting. If I am ever down and need a pick me up I go to Vivaldi's Four Seasons or else Beethoven's 5th.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I am severely biased on this issue: I love Beethoven's music.

I have read Rand mentioning the "malevolence" in Beethoven. I don't see malevolence "winning out" in any sense of his music. His 2 symphonies that are titled in minor keys (5 & 9) eventually change to triumphant major in the finales. The 4th & 7th in particular (especially the 1st movements) are just about the most amazingly joyous & heroic sounding music I have ever heard. The 4th has a "dark" opening that quickly gets blown away by being changed from B-flat minor to B-flat major.

Some of his piano sonatas are truly

virtually free from struggle and just glories in a joyful manner, sweet and sensuous.
And others while containing "dark themes" always have movements and themes that counteract/balance. In fact, many times using the sonata-allegro form in his opening movements, any sonata opening in a minor key usually has the relative major as the 2nd theme and is used extensively in the development.

His piano concertos are all amazing but I think the 3rd (even though in the dark C minor!) and 5th are perfectly constructed masterpieces. Most people are familiar with the finale (that rising chord tone theme is what I think of whenever reading about Halley's 5th in Atlas). The opening movement is just as amazing...BUT...it's the middle movement that absolutely slays me. It's main theme is almost unbearably poignant and beautiful. It is the theme that was used to great effect in many of the heavily emotional scenes of "Immortal Beloved": especially the sequences of rising chords (that one with the applied dominant - V of vi. Oh, man!) that eventually climbs to the cadence of the whole theme.

In any event, it is not as simple as saying minor keys are "bad/dark" and therefore indicative of evil intention. Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovski are mentioned favorable in Rand's writings and they are quite dark (even sinister sounding) at times. And usually to the great effect of sounding serious or grimly determined (think of Rach's often quoted Prelude in C-sharp minor! Yikes, THAT is a great, powerful piece without a smile to be found anywhere near it). Beethoven was equally adapt at using whatever keys (i.e.: tools) at his disposal necessary to get his point across.

Beethoven...Benevolent Master Craftsman.

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  • 1 year later...
Some of Beethoven is dark, but overall he is my favorite composer. His pieces tend to be very simple structurally and melodically, but still incredibly dramatic and moving.

Very simple structurally and melodically???? You are kidding, right?

Beethoven is the supreme architect of music. No composer has ever handled various large scale forms/structures (sonata-allegro, theme and variations, rondo, sonata-rondo, etc.) with more mastery and sophistication. Listen to his late string quartets and then tell me how simple his music is structurally.

And in regard to his music being 'malevolent'.....this is one of the most ludicrous statements I have ever heard/read...his works are among the most triumphant, life-affirming works of art ever created.

Edited by arete1952
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