Last week I borrowed a Beethoven CD from the library. I played it in the car to which my daughter proclaimed, "Daddy, this is pretty music."
We were enjoying it, and since the girls had sat long through the library's "story hour" (they have a pretty good program, I recommend it) I asked them where they wanted to get lunch. They wanted tacos.
When I ordered and approached the Drive-Thru window with the music still blaring I wondered, "Is it pompous to pull up for fast food blasting triumphant classical music?" As in, is the middle-aged woman who makes my change going to think that I think I am better than her just because I'm listening to Beethoven? I didn't want to believe it was so, so I left the music playing. If anything, Beethoven is the one who is better than US. It truly is a plastic-fantastic society we live in where anything with any depth or sincerity is sacrificed for the sake of making money and having cool crap we don't need and can't afford anyway. It is sad that Beethoven doesn't fit into our society unless it's in the form of bad muzak ringtones for our cellphones. And those are snooty, too, aren't they?
At least Beethoven didn't sell out to the rich like so many other composers of his time. He wrote what he wanted and scraped up what he needed to pay the bills. He was a commoner. It kept him lonely throughout his life. And like so many other great minds that rise from lowly ranks, he seems to have started life hopeful as to the promise this world holds, only to have those ideas crushed in his later years and accepting that people are rotten. I can say that because I know that our every-man-for-himself society is slowly going deaf and no one will hear it anyhow.
I regret being the type of person to hear Beethoven's music performed and automatically think, "Wow, they are getting some good sound out of their synthesizers," only to have to remind myself that the sound actually IS 20 violins being played at once. Beethoven makes it easy to transition from music that is all two notes and a fat beat into real melody and harmony. Kurt Cobain may be the highest paid dead dude but does that mean he was better than Beethoven? I don't think I have to answer that. So here is to Beethoven who knows how to rock without drums. Maybe one day the people will live up to the music.