Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sensual connections with Beethoven

On Saturday, I had one of my favourite indulgences. I went to the symphony to listen to Beethoven's 3rd Symphony - Eroica. It was a very moving and delightful experience, and there was something about it that was almost sensual. 

As a master of his craft (and my favourite composer), Beethoven has the ability to connect with his audience the way an author might. Music, even classical, is just another form of communication. In fact, I see music as the ultimate universal method of communication. It doesn't matter what language you speak, you can hear music. 

Like reading a work that you find yourself thinking "yes, I can totally relate to that!", I experienced that feeling while listening Beethoven this weekend. The second movement was rather melancholy and dark. It struck a nerve, because we have all experienced personal misery or disappointment in our lives - whether it is fresh or a long ago ache. With this movement, he has found a way to open us - to share in that pain and expose us, to leave us vulnerable. It is as though he is with me, and together we share our unhappiness. Anyone who has experienced an intimate relationship is familiar with that act of sharing, and how being vulnerable with someone can allow for feelings to deepen.

From that moment when he has me so exposed, I am at his mercy. He can take me further down into the darkness, or liberate me. Which he did in the final movement. And this is the part where there may be a sensual connection. 

Exposed and vulnerable, he then takes the listener through a surge of beauty and delight. One of Beethoven's early criticisms from his audience was that he could not end his symphony. However, I found it quite the opposite. It is not that he could not end the piece, but that he wants you left breathless at the end. As I sat there listening to what could have been the end, I kept thinking to myself; no, don't be over yet. Until finally, after there are a handful of moments when it was rather close and you just weren't sure, but you didn't want it to end there, suddenly, yes, the end is clear. Everything else in the world disappears save for you and the music. And in the sudden moment when the instruments stop but the music is still heard, I whispered; "Wow," and was left breathless. That is what a master of the art can do!

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