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[文化博览] 【整理】文化 2008-01-15, Beethoven 贝多芬 - 07

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Homework

 

In 1796 or 97, Beethoven had suffered a serious illness, possibly meningitis.

 

“My ears continue to hum and buzz day and night”, he wrote. “I can hear sounds, it’s true, but cannot make out the words.”

 

He first noticed that his hearing was going when he was around 28 years of age at the height of his early fame, producing great works. Suddenly he knew his hearing was beginning to go. The doctors said “don’t worry about it, it’s a bit of wax, it’ll be all right.” But it kept getting worse and it lasted, in fact, I mean he was not fully deaf, stone-deaf as we would call it, until his final years.

 

When we were little children we hear that Beethoven was deaf, so we find that fact away early on, and then we forget about it, and then we forget sort of what that means to be deaf. And every now and then I think we need to re-acquaint ourselves with that fact and sort of re-think about it, and re-read the Heiligenstadter Testament.

 

The Heiligenstadter Testament is a document that was written in 1802 after months of suicidal despair. Its name comes from the village where it was written. Beethoven had gone there for the summer to rest his ears.

 

“Oh, you men who think or say I am hostile and peevish or misanthropic, how greatly you wrong me.”

 

It was impossible for me to say to people: speak louder, shout, for I am a deaf. But how could I possibly admit weakness of the one sense which should be more perfect in me than another’s, a sense which I once possessed, in the greatest perfection, I would have ended my life, only my art held me back. It seemed to be impossible to leave the world until I produced all that I felt was within me.

 

Careful dating the sketches has been very revealing because the first work he wrote after the Heiligenstadter Testament was this Oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives. And it’s a very strange work, in that he doesn't deal with the whole of Christ's passions story, like most passions like Bach's passion. He deals with just the aspect of suffering, loneliness and isolation of Christ as he is about to be crucified the night before his crucifixion. And how Christ is going to overcome all these and save the world? And this is very much like Beethoven feeling his own isolation. And the other work he wrote straight after the Heiligenstadter Testament was the Eroica symphony.

 

Just 说说而已!
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