What I Have in My Heart I Must Out

ondays with martin“Have you ever had a realization that the whole beautiful, terrible crazy drama of life was perfect? Sometimes, this realization comes during holy moments, those brief suspensions of time when eternity steals over us, and we feel the inherent integrity of life” (Joan Borysenko, Fire in the Soul).

Recently, I was reading a CD cover on Ludwig van Beethoven’s concertos and came across his quote:

“I have never thought of writing for renown and glory. What I have in my heart I must out: That is why I write.”

Beethoven’s story still inspires many people. He discovered at age 26 that he was losing his hearing, became moody and withdrawn due to his embarrassment of impending deafness, and was ashamed to tell people to “speak up.” “Alas! How could I possibly refer to the impairing of a sense which should be more perfectly developed in me than in others, a sense which once was perfect.”

However, he still continued to compose; he had too much that he wanted to express through music to give up. He shortened the legs of his piano, so he could play while placing his head on the top of the instrument and felt the vibrations. He composed great music in spite of his deafness.

His final symphony inspired the beginning of the Romantic period, where composers began to write emotional works instead of composing music for specific purposes. At the premier performance of his Ninth Symphony, Beethoven stood at the podium and conducted the musicians. After the performance, the audience stood, cheering and applauding, but Beethoven heard none of it. One of the female soloists had to tug at his sleeve, so he would turn around and acknowledge the applause.

This is one of the most inspiring stories I know about an artist creating, in spite of personal hindrances. Beethoven’s passion carried the day. Yes, people have criticized him for his moodiness, but he was dealing with his deafness. How could a musical genius deal with being deaf? Beethoven wrote from his heart. He was a true artist. What a lesson for us all to remember.What an amazing person.

Let us all, regardless of our personal challenges, write on.

– David Martin

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