Daily prompt: How I came to love Beethoven


In 1940, my father and several of his colleagues drafted an adult education scheme for the Australian Army. Its purpose was to combat illiteracy among recruits, to educate them in the political history of Australia (thus explaining why we were involved in this war), to improve morale, foster civic responsibility, provide diversion from the tedium of military life and prepare servicemen and women to enter the workforce after demobilisation.

The scheme was accepted in 1941 and the Australian Army Education Service was established with my father as its Commander. It was so successful that it expanded its remit to include culture and the arts, which led to the moment that’s relevant to this post: the moment when Bert met Beethoven (Bert being my dad).

Not only did Bert meet Beethoven, he became a Beethoven groupie, and as a result I (born in 1943) absorbed Beethoven symphonies and concertos subliminally as I slept peacefully in my cradle and have never got over it. I can still tell you where each 78 record came to end in Beethoven’s 5th symphony, and there was a pause while the next one dropped into place.

But that aside, this is why Beethoven is indelibly etched on my soul and a Beethoven symphony can still bring that incredible burst of joy not equalled by the music of any other composer, although a few have come close. And why I really, really cannot love the atonal, discordant what-some-regard-as brilliance of modern ‘classical’ music. I like melody. I like a TUNE for goodness sake! Is that so terrible?

Judging by the number of ‘old’ classical pieces that have been commandeered for films – and even, heaven help us, for TV commercials – the answer is no. Melody is what gets us in. They want you come away humming the music from their ad or their movie, and brilliant though he may be, it would be hard to get your hum around the music of Phillip Glass. Or, indeed, the latest rap sensation.

I could get philosophical here and say ‘discordant music = discordant society’. And even ‘which came first?’

But I won’t.


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12 Responses to Daily prompt: How I came to love Beethoven

  1. Beethoven is my favorite composer. Sometimes the themes from symphonies go through my head, ear worms of the finest kind. Especially 6, the Pastoral and number 9, but also the Late String Quartets. Thank you.

    • My absolute pleasure! Aren’t we lucky to have such magnificent ear worms! The Triple Concerto is one of my favourites, although I came to that later. (I also walk up and down the four flights of stairs to my unit to the (inner) accompaniment of Saint Saens organ concerto, Started the day I moved in 15 years ago and stuck!)

  2. Arti Tyagi says:

    I’m sorry I am perhaps from a different culture and time and so have absolutely no idea about Beethoven’s music, but I like reading pieces like this carrying a little bit of history in them! I enjoyed it.

  3. lwbut says:

    Roll Over, Beethoven! 😉

    Just reading Marilyn’s quote had me following the opening bars of the Pastoral in my mind’s ear! 🙂 My favourite piece has to be Ode To Joy, followed by The Moonlight Sonata.

    Music, and indeed all sounds, have distinct effects on mood and personality, particularly when absorbed in large regular doses… for good, as well as bad, effect. More people should probably be aware of that than currently are.

    Mozart has some particularly beneficial music for brain enhancement.


    • I can’t think rap is good for the global psyche. But would you call that music?

      • lwbut says:

        Ahhh… No!

        At least not according to my (high) standards. 😉

        Oh-ohhhh… i just had a flashback to the ’70’s when i would rush to the disco dance floor every time i heard ‘Rapper’s Delight’ by The Sugarhill Gang.


        My only excuse is i was a hormonal teenager at the time?


  4. Pingback: Singer/Songwriter/Musician Interview – Vanessa Cardui (Multi-Instrumentalist, Rock, Folk, Celtic, Filk & Choral Music) | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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