Beethoven and Social Media

A surprise discovery shows Beethoven was an early social media adapter; well, anyway, that's how I choose to interpret this story in the SMH. How did he do it?

Well, he wrote what is now known as Beethoven's Conversation Books ... he began to lose his hearing in 1798 and carried the 'conversation books' with him from 1818, in which friends and acquaintances would jot down comments in the books for him. Genius! Social media two hundred years ago.

Read more on Beethoven's Social Network  in The Guardian as well as this rather detailed treatment of Beethoven's influences in the New Yorker.

Myself, I have always considered Beethoven's Ninth - especially the 4th movement with the Ode To Joy - the very best piece of music. (Alongside The Stone's oeuvre, Essay)

Listen to the music ... this is the gist of the song:


Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
Daughter from Elysium
We enter, drunk with fire
Heavenly One, your sanctuary
Your spells bind again 
What custom strictly divided
All people become brothers
Where your gentle wing rests
Who has succeeded in the great attempt
To be a friend's friend
Whoever has won a devoted (partner)
Add his joy to the jubilation

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne               O friends, not these sounds

Sondern laßt uns angenehmere          But let's make it more pleasant 

Anstimmen und freudenvollere            And be more joyful

Freude                                                 Joy

Freude                                                 Joy

"An die Freude"

"Ode to Joy"

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Wem der große Wurf gelungen
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben
und der Cherub steht vor Gott.

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt'gen Plan
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum siegen.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über'm Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such' ihn über'm Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.

Joy, beautiful spark of Divinity [or: of gods],
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly One, thy sanctuary!
Thy magic binds again
What custom strictly divided;
All people become brothers,
Where thy gentle wing abides.

Who has succeeded in the great attempt,
To be a friend's friend,
Whoever has won a lovely woman,
Add his to the jubilation!
Indeed, who even just has one soul
To call his own in this world!
And who never managed it should slink 
Weeping from this union!

All creatures drink of joy
At nature's breasts.
All the Just, all the Evil
Follow her trail of roses.
Kisses she gave us and grapevines,
A friend, proven in death.
Salaciousness was given to the worm 
And the cherub stands before God.

Gladly, as His suns fly
through the heavens' grand plan 
Go on, brothers, your way,
Joyful, like a hero to victory.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss to all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Are you collapsing, millions?
Do you sense the creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy!
Above stars must He dwell.


 The poem Ode To Joy was written by German poet 
Friedrich Schiller in 1785, this is a page from his manuscript:

Academic speculation remains as to whether Schiller originally wrote an Ode to Freedom (Ode an die Freiheit) and changed it to an Ode to Joy. The thought lies near that it was the early form of the poem, when it was still an 'Ode to Freedom', which first aroused enthusiastic admiration for it in Beethoven's mind.

But back to Beethoven's Conversation Books:

Beethoven's deaf-defying ultimate masterpiece

London: Ludwig Van Beethoven may not have been deaf after all when he composed his final masterpiece, according to new research.

For over a century, it has been believed that the German composer and pianist had gone "stone deaf" years before he debuted his Ninth Symphony in May 1824.

But now, a professor of musicology has uncovered crucial evidence that suggests that Beethoven actually retained some hearing in his left ear until shortly before his death in March 1827.

Theodore Albrecht, a professor at Kent State University in Ohio, USA, told The Observer: "This is going to send everybody scurrying to revise biological concepts about Beethoven.

"Not only was Beethoven not completely deaf at the premiere of his Ninth Symphony in May 1824, he could hear, although increasingly faintly, for at least two years afterwards," Professor Albrecht added.

Professor Albrecht has made the startling discovery as he undertakes, for the first time, to translate Beethoven's "conversation books" from German into English - a "game-changing" project that will eventually encompass 12 volumes.

Beethoven, who began to lose his hearing in 1798, carried the "conversation books" from 1818, in which friends and acquaintances would jot down comments in the books for him.

And in one entry, dated 1823, the composer scribbled down advice to a stranger in a coffee shop who was losing his own hearing. Beethoven wrote: "Just do not use mechanical devices [ear trumpets] too early; by abstaining from using them, I have fairly preserved my left ear in this way."

Professor Albrecht told TheObserver: "The conversation books are going to be a game-changer." Referring to the range of pitches used in Beethoven's final symphony, Professor Albrecht says: "All the registers are there. He could hear them with his inner ear. He was amazing."

Volume 3 of Beethoven's Conversation Books will be published in May.

The Telegraph, London