When I was growing up my family would take frequent, long road trips to visit my Grandmother in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My parents had a handful of staple cassettes for us to listen to: Mr Bach Comes to Call, Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, and my favorite, Beethoven Lives Upstairs. My parents did occasionally listen to music from this century, my father would get a far off look in his eyes whenever Queen would come over the radio, but our household largely was filled with classical music. The children were obligated to take piano lessons, we would often come home to find my mother listening to Beethoven’s 9th while folding laundry, and Handel’s Messiah was a constant during the Holiday season.
When I became a teenager this music fell by the wayside as my tastes followed those of most teenagers trying to be cool while not popular. Some of what I liked then has stood the test of time, but much of it has proven itself culturally and emotionally bankrupt. In recent months I have found myself returning to the classical music of my childhood when I need to think, meditate, and focus. I have been drawn back to Beethoven particularly.
Beethoven always seemed like somebody I could relate to. I grew up in a family of manic depressives. Strong swings of emotion and drama were central to my world. Consequently, the moody, belligerent, obviously afflicted with brilliance, and emotionally present Beethoven spoke to me. The man became deaf, yet, despite the frustration of his disability, composed some of the most lasting music in western civilization.
Beethoven connects me with something primal, and reminds me of my childhood. He inspires me to do better and never use a character flaw or ingrained attribute as an excuse for lack of effort. He reminds me that hardship and frustration can be transitory if I don’t let them keep me from pushing forward.
I’ve included links to some of my favorite Beethoven music below. Maybe they’ll do something for you.