The Musical Clue

A clue.

Lenin was seen weeping upon listening to one of Beethoven’s quartets – and yet he was as ruthless and detached a despot as any we’ve seen.

A clue – to what? That no man is free of emotion, of opinions seeded into him at birth and baked in the chaos of life and learning. We can modify what we think, but we cannot escape being inherently emotional – in both the senses, of (a) spontaneous reactions (First Movements) and (b) Opinions and Passions.

Just now myself, falling asleep at work, helpless to stem that all-conquering middle-aged somnolescence that comes upon me when sitting, I pulled out my smartphone and plugged in my earphones and dialed up Lang-Lang playing Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto (Piano Concerto No. 5). With volume set to a realistic but ear-damaging level, the Beet’ roused me – transported me – to the heroic realms that I shall never find upon the Earth. (And I’m supposedly an adherent of Stoicism. Hah!) And so I successfully completed my work.

To see a semi-spastic creature such as myself reacting to the bold Beethovenian tutti must be a sight. But I have to reflect: The discrete blows of the piano’s felt hammer on its tone-cables ring true, here in my physical self, in my very motor-neurology of jerky-motion-bolting-missed-try-again-bolting-closer-jerkily-hit-it-now-phewwww. Beethoven is here percussive in a grander-than-life sense; his orchestra does not strum out tones, but belts out thunder, ego, gaiety, lightning, contemplation, orgasm, marching and frolic and dance. Nor Bach, nor Mozart, nor Chopin, nor Brahms can do this, in this sort, in all these modes and movements, nor with such an intensity – none but the Beet’.

Listen to it yourself.

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