The Beauty's Dawn of the Climbing Aspiration-Heart
Pillar

Curtains

Ludwig van Beethoven -
An Ambassador of World Harmony

By Pranlobha Kalajian

 

I am a music lover. I play piano. I would like to consider myself a composer, but I scarcely deserve that honor. I am a student of Sri Chinmoy. He taught me meditation and how to cultivate a healthy, balanced, spiritual lifestyle. Among his numerous creative expressions, he was an avid composer and musician. Listening to his meditative music has influenced me tremendously as a musician. I know that my appreciation of Sri Chinmoy's music has helped me to connect with music itself at a much deeper, more intimate level. Consequently, I felt an irresistible pull towards classical music, particularly the music of Ludwig Van Beethoven.

In writing this article, my hope is to express my deepest appreciation of the great classical composer. I wish to present accurately, in brief, the essence of Beethoven's music as I understand it. It is an offering of gratitude to my teacher Sri Chinmoy, for his tireless guidance in my life. And to Beethoven for encouraging me through his music, in which his heroic spirit shines so powerfully.

Musical capacity is, to me, often sadly misunderstood. Creativity is the soul of music. Creativity is our birthright. I believe that everyone has the same inborn capacity to become a great musician. We only have to awaken that capacity within us. There is a mathematical structure to music which is very real. Naturally, this is easier for some people to comprehend than others. But if there is a mountain obstructing your path, what will you do? You may decide to find a path around it. Another person may find it easier to climb over it. We must simply find the method of learning which plays to our individual strengths.
It's not genius which makes one a great musician or composer. A great musician is created when he discovers his inner connection to the force of creativity. Each person has this connection, within their own soul. This is the same creative force that pulses within the heartbeat of humanity. From this force, exquisite melodies will spontaneously flow into the heart. These melodies are then transcribed by the musician. The resulting masterpiece is what a true composer can humbly offer to mankind. Beethoven himself seems to agree with this philosophy. He said, "Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. Although the spirit be not master of that which it creates through music, yet it is blessed in this creation, which, like every creation of art, is mightier than the artist."

Sri Chinmoy was asked, "What is the spiritual essence of Beethoven's sound-creation-manifestation?"

He replied, "The spiritual essence of Beethoven's sound-creation-manifestation is that the outer life can be harmonized, liberated and fulfilled by the soul's conscious guidance of the physical in us. Even if the outer life starts with darkest ignorance, it has hope. It begins its journey with hope; but eventually it's total transformation, illumination and perfection become certain."
(Excerpt from God The Supreme Musician, by Sri Chinmoy. Copyright 1976.)

Beethoven was by no means a child prodigy. During the greater part of his life, he was harshly discouraged from composing. His pieces were considered disruptive and unrefined. He didn't follow conventional composing rules. His early works were considered by many to be the product of a gifted pianist who could play wonderfully, but not create. Yet he persevered, fearlessly exploring new worlds of music which had been previously unknown. His music is direct, powerful, deep and calming. Each note is chosen with great deliberation and restraint. He refused to listen to the music of others, lest he forfeit some of his own originality. Instead, he was influenced by the sounds of his environment. Mother Nature, the chatter of conversation, and his own inner silence flooded him with inspiration.

Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 is an obvious example of this. The first four notes of this piece are in fact identical to the song of a European bird. The Ortolan Bunting. It seems very plausible that this bird's song inspired him, even if he wasn't aware of the fact. This topic is discussed in Matthew Guerrieri's book, "The First Four Notes: Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination". When compared to the pieces being written all over Europe during that time, the Fifth was almost unacceptably different.

In Symphony No. 6, we hear the song of a summer day in the countryside. As each movement progress, so does the day. It's a warm, sunny morning filled with birdsong and the pure joy of life. A sleepy lull fills the air with the heat of the noon. By afternoon, a thunder storm approaches. Pelting rain, whirling wind and clashes of thunder start a wild, spirited dance. Streaks of lightning whip the sky. And then - the calm after the storm. Raindrops clinging to the grass sparkle like jewels, as streaks of sun pierce the clouds. The birds sing their evening songs, and the sun begins to retire in all its splendor.

Now, we must pause for a moment to remind ourselves that Beethoven was indeed deaf! At the age of thirty he had already begun to experience the loss of 60% of his hearing. Nevertheless, this is when he began actively composing. His immortal Symphony No. 9 is believed by many to be the greatest piece of music ever written. By the time it premiered, Beethoven had completely lost his hearing. How can someone write a piece such as this, without the means to hear it? One theory is his highly trained sensitivity to the vibrating frequencies of musical tones. He could literally “feel” every note of the scale. I agree very much with this. But let us also consider the inner music, which stems from that creative force of nature and is always heard by our souls. If we can develop the inner ear to hear this music, as I believe he did, and transcribe it to notation, would not deafness be a mere side note?

I believe that at his core Beethoven was an optimist, who deeply cared for the future of mankind and strove for a better world. In his music, he expressed these feelings. He gave his life in an effort to show us the harmonies of a world we are still striving to attain. A world of universal harmony. We are left with his efforts and can only stand in awe and gratitude. The Ode to Joy chorus was the grand finale of his life. I would like to end my little article with an excerpt from the lyrics.

The lyrics to this piece were largely taken from a poem by Friedrich Schiller, and set to music by Beethoven. The following is an excerpt, translated into English:

Joy, beautiful spark of the divinity,
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter into your sanctuary, burning with fervor,
o heavenly being!
Your magic brings together
what custom has sternly divided.
All men shall become brothers,
wherever your gentle wings hover.

...Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss is for the world!
Brothers, above the canopy of stars
must dwell a loving father.
Do you bow before Him, you millions?
Do you sense your Creator, o world?
Seek Him above the canopy of stars!
He must dwell beyond the stars.

"I close my eyes with the blessed consciousness that I have left one shining track upon the earth"
-Ludwig Van Beethoven, shortly before his death.

Back to music articles

Pillar
Steps
Artwork Music Writing Photo Video About
Copyright by Antara-Prabhat Kalajian
Artwork Music Writing Photographs Videos About Home