Archive for Beethoven

Just Out for a Walk?

Posted in Musings, Reflection with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2014 by timtrue

Someone recently said to me, “You know, if you’re trying to lead someone somewhere, and you turn around and no one is following you, you’re just out for a walk.”

Ha, ha, ha I say–as I roll my eyes.

Part of the eye-rolling is from considering the source.  He’s a pragmatic man.  He needs to see results.  And if you turn around and no one’s following you, there are no immediate results.  End of story.  At least for him.

He’s also told me he has no artistic bone in his body.  I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.


Do you think Martin Luther King, Jr. cared if anyone was following him or not?  Early on, I’m not sure anyone was.

jackie robinson

What if Jackie Robinson had said no to the big leagues because there were no players from the negro leagues willing to follow him?


Or, forget Martin Luther King, Jr.  What about Martin Luther himself?  Remember that reformer?  After standing up to the intimidating structure that was the medieval Catholic Church, standing trial for his life in fact, do you remember what he said?  “Here I stand.”  Not, “Here I stand with my buddies who’ve decided to follow me”; or, “I stand by what I said because I’ve got reasonably good authority backing me up”; or any other such schmaltz.  But here I, by myself, alone, without anyone following me, without pragmatism–here I stand.

Or what about this guy?


No, real leadership is not pragmatic.

Real leadership does not need to be backed up by his friends, or the majority, or the crowd, or the mob.

Real leadership, instead, is principled.  It is adventurous, pioneering into new territory whether or not anyone else has the spine to accompany, because it is the right thing to do.  Not because the peanut gallery is egging me on!

No, it seems to me that the need to be followed by others is what’s not real leadership.  What it is is something else–maybe something good, akin to motherhood; or perhaps something bad, even really bad, like the duplicity of a political charlatan.  But don’t tell me it’s leadership!

Music to Shut Out Pundits

Posted in Music, Musings with tags , , , , on August 22, 2014 by timtrue


Sometimes I am overcome with the level of truth, beauty, and goodness that humanity produces.

Just viewed this:

If you’ve got the time and patience, it’s definitely worth a hearing: a recording of Claudio Arrau performing Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 32 in Bonn, Germany in 1977.

Watching Arrau is impressive enough.  He’s definitely a master of masters.  His interpretation is perhaps the best there is to date.  And the technical difficulty!  The music critics of 1820s Vienna said this sonata was unplayable after it was first published–if that gives you any idea.

But Arrau can play it.  So could some other pianists who lived closer to Beethoven’s time.  People who didn’t listen to the critics.  People who continued to believe in the aging Beethoven.

For an example of what I’m talking about, close your eyes right at about 25:20 into the recording.  After a few seconds it will sound like Arrau has three hands.  For there are three distinct voices, in three registers, sounding together!  It’s positively trinitarian.  But then you open your eyes and see that, no, no one has joined Arrau; nor has any Wizard enabled Arrau to grow a third hand.  But close your eyes and there it is again!  Truly genius!  Truly the ancient triad of truth, beauty, and goodness come to life!

Then you remember.  Here, now, already moved to tears, you remember that Beethoven was completely deaf at the time he composed this sonata.


. . .

Moved beyond material existence, you decide then and there to be like Beethoven.  You decide that you’ll be deaf to the critics, to the naysayers, and to the news reports all around you that try to force you into desperation regarding humanity.  Where is the truth, they say?  Where is the goodness?  Where is the beauty?

You can’t answer.  Beethoven has rendered you temporarily speechless.  Instead, you act.  You shut off the TV and those wagging pundits, click on that link I gave you above, and settle into hearing nothing for a half hour but this heavenly music brought to earth.

Finally, then, you recover.  And you say, “Right here, O pundits of pessimism.  Truth, beauty, and goodness–humanity’s splendor–are all right here.  You go ahead and tell your stories.  As for me, I’ll listen to Beethoven.”