Arrogant, willful and brusque, not paying attention to how he dressed or even to combing his hair, Ludwig van Beethoven wasn't a man cut out for high society. Luckily in Vienna, the upper crust loved and understood music, and with that introduction, Beethoven was exactly in the right place.
The composer's work ethic was terrific, in 1790 he was one of a hoard of pianist/ composers and a decade later he was the man to watch in the city of music - the one leading the way. However, Beethoven had a secret that he was ashamed of, one that could make audiences question the composer's abilities - his encroaching deafness. He poured out his feelings in a written testament in 1802.
"Ah, how could I possibly admit an infirmity in the one sense which ought to be more perfect in me than others, a sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection, a perfection such as few in my profession enjoy or ever have enjoyed - - Oh I cannot do it (have everyday friendships); therefore forgive me when you see me draw back when I would have gladly mingled with you."
Beethoven started to remove himself from society, and he replaced the company of others with the job of creating a new music esthetic - music that would recognize the traditions of the past and build a new emotionality and power.
By 1795, the trouble with his hearing was a fact of Beethoven's life and it deepened his commitment to the only voice he had, music. His Opus 10 consists of three sonatas and in it this new vow is exercised for the first time. In these works, Beethoven gives us more; larger contrasts, louder passages; stressing the lightweight fortepianos of the time and faster passages that still push the limits of any pianist.
On the Piano this Sunday, you can hear the first of two programs exploring in some detail this journey into a new world of sound and fury - Beethoven's Opus 10. Behold the new esthetic this Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. on KPAC and KTXI.