Some reminders before we dive in: There are three different kinds of comments you need to make in these online discussions in order to earn full credit. Refer to the assignment description you received in class (also available here). The most effective comments in this kind of forum are concise, clear, and supported. Instead of responding to every conversation question in one comment, try to make shorter, separate comments that allow other people to digest and respond to your ideas.

Online discussion #5 is open for comments March 5-11.

 


 

The “great man theory”

For the most part in Mu 101, I avoid taking the “Great Man” approach to music history—the over-simplified, inspiring, and inaccurate notion that history consists of great acts by singular “great men,” who, by force of will, talent, and their sheer exceptionality, acted alone to change the course of history. I avoid it because, although it’s an easy way to tell the story of music history (and one you may recognize from typical high school history textbooks), it omits the bigger social structures, currents of thought, and other (little) people that form the world in which those “great men” lived—they didn’t act alone, because no one does.

A music history survey in a class just like Mu 101 could easily (and traditionally has) consist of the biographies and music of, in order:

This list of seven composers spans the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century periods of music history. If we only listened to and studied their music in Mu 101, you would come away with a pretty good sense of different musical styles and you would have listened to music that is, by many standards, excellent: well-crafted, thoughtful, skillful, visionary, and respected, not to mention that their music is performed consistently and regularly to this day. By itself, this list would fulfill all of the university-wide curricular requirements of Mu 101 at QCC.

But this list leaves out a lot of musical perspectives : women, non-Europeans (actually, anyone outside of Austria and Germany), and people who didn’t compose music that’s been regarded as serious art. And without these other perspectives, the world of these “great men” is two-dimensional, meaning it’s irrelevant to our modern lives and inaccurate because it’s so incomplete. It even does their “greatness” a disservice to not provide the context for what allowed them to be exceptional, skillful, successful, or, well, “great.”

While we will talk about (or at least mention) all of these composers that form the backbone of the Western classical canon, they don’t tell the whole story—think of everything we’ve listened to in class so far that wasn’t by one of these seven “great” composers. Music doesn’t have to be written by a “great” composer to be interesting or to be worth thinking about.

But let’s at least talk about one of those so-called “great” composers here…

Before you even started your journey in Mu 101 this semester, you’d likely heard the music of Beethoven, and probably knew his name.

He’s one of those figures that everybody just kind of knows, right? He’s a figure that, in the back of your mind, prods you with a nagging sensation that you should be able to at least say something about him, because he’s totally an important historical figure, duh.

You could name your dog after him and no one would bat an eye.

Beethoven movie
A classic film from 1992

 

 

Everybody loves Raymond Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is “one of those guys” because his music has been so celebrated, without pause, since his lifetime. People have turned to Beethoven at various crucial historical moments, using his music to convey the notion of overcoming struggle, unity, and humanity:

During his life, Beethoven’s music was shocking for many listeners. It was bigger, bolder, louder, and more striking than anything that had come before it. More than that, it seemed spiritual for many listeners, especially as participation in organized religion declined during the 19th century—music, especially instrumental music for large symphony orchestras, steps in to fill the void of connecting people with the sense of a higher power.

hoffman, eta
E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822)

Descriptions of classical music from the 19th century are a gold mine for juicy, transcendental musical experiences. People believed music could offer them entry into unseen worlds, and composers tried to live up to these expectations. Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (1776–1822), like many other listeners, first felt a connection with things beyond himself when listening to the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, and this feeling (even though he doesn’t use the same words as Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, since he’s not a 20th-century psychologist), implies that he’s had a flow experience.

 

“Thus Beethoven’s instrumental music opens up to us also the realm of the monstrous and the immeasurable. Burning flashes of light shoot through the deep night of this realm and we become aware of giant shadows that surge back and forth, driving us into narrower and narrower confines until they destroy us—but not the pain of that endless longing in which each joy that has climbed aloft in jubilant song sinks back and is swallowed up, and it is only in this pain, which consumes love, hope, and happiness but does not destroy them, which seeks to burst our breasts with a many-voices consonance of all the passions, that we live on, enchanted beholders of the supernatural!… Beethoven’s music sets in motion the lever of fear, of awe, of horror, of suffering, and wakens just that infinite longing which is the essence of romanticism…”

—E.T.A. Hoffmann, Beethoven’s Instrumental Music (1813)

 

Leonard Bernstein: the charming Beethoven fanboy

Below is a 1954 episode of Omnibusa TV program that aired on Sunday afternoons in the US during the 1950s and 1960s. It was funded by the Ford Foundation as an effort to educate Americans culturally. The main speaker throughout this episode is Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), an American composer, conductor, and educator. He hosted several episodes of Omnibus, each about a different musical topic, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, conducting, jazz, and opera.

In the video, Bernstein discusses why he finds Beethoven to be a fascinating and inspiring figure, illustrating Beethoven’s creative process and the difficulty he had in shaping his music into its final form. Bernstein demonstrates excerpts from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 at the piano, with scores (sheet music), and a full orchestra. He uses many vocabulary words we’ve already come across in class and in assigned readings—he’s speaking a language you now know!

As a frame of reference, here’s a recording of the piece of music the video dissects:

 

In the video, I love how Bernstein’s admiration for Beethoven comes through—he’s picking apart Beethoven’s musical ideas with care, respect, and thoroughness, seeking to appreciate (and share with his viewers) Beethoven’s compositional process and skill.

Leonard Bernstein, Omnibus, “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony” (1954):

 

But why Beethoven?

But why has Beethoven been such an inspiring figure for so many musicians and non-musicians alike? The short answer is that his music is really, really good. It’s satisfying to play, it’s inspiring to listen to, and it was a game-changer for Romantic Era music (it’s bigger, louder, longer, more intense, and conveys a greater sense of personal conviction than anything that came before it). See some musicians’ musings about Beethoven’s music here: 05-handout-quotes-on-beethoven-1805-1862

The long answer involves aspects of who Beethoven is in the imaginations of his listeners and admirers:

  • An independent thinker who defied cultural norms and instead followed his own ideas in both music and society
  • A hard worker and perfectionist—Beethoven’s obvious difficulty in getting his music “right” is a big part of what inspires Bernstein, and there’s often something comforting about seeing a person create great work not out of effortless talent but rather out of sheer force of unrelenting will
  • A shrewd businessman who made classical music profitable in the free market economy
  • A firm believer in the equality of man (an Enlightenment principle)
  • Oh, and he was deaf for much of his adult life following an infection—the notion that a person could overcome a physical disability so obviously shattering to his professional career is often one of the biggest sources of inspiration people draw from Beethoven’s biography

In short, Beethoven fulfills the role of a hero.

batman logo

Final thoughts

At a certain point, it stops mattering whether a hero is as good as everyone says he is—it only matters that people think he’s great, because it’s that assumption of greatness, of being inspired, that guides future choices and actions. The more time passes, the more his identity is equated with how people perceived and received his work—the myth becomes the man in our minds. In the case of Beethoven, the awe, the reverence, and the seemingly impossible standards he established guide subsequent musicians to their aesthetic ideals. For us as inheritors of a post-Beethoven world in the 21st century, that means that our musical experiences are shaped by a set of assumptions we may take for granted: orchestral music is big, long, and loud; the notion that music can be spiritually moving; classical music is “serious”; and it doesn’t matter if the audience “gets” it because the creator is assumed to be a genius.

-Dr. J.

 

No conversation-starting questions this week—I don’t want to dictate where the conversation goes, and there’s plenty to think about here without them!

117 thoughts on “Ludwig van Beethoven (Online discussion #6)

  1. i saw the valuable video of Berstein for Beethoven it was really amazing i have heard about Beethoven but he was really a great composer he had 14 version over the period of eight years . He wanted perfection in his work. so their are a lot of notes which were rejected by his own he was not satisfied. He has different sketches and was looking for the perfect notes follow by the right ones following his own laws . He spend his whole life for creating meaningful music its impressive the music at the end of the fifth symphony was amazing.He was one of those people who has purpose in life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reading this comment makes me think of something one of our classmates talked about in the previous online discussion. I don’t remember the exact question, but It was something along the lines of how much music is too much? Essentially, how much of it makes it so it has a negative impact on you. This comment reminded me of that because of how Beethoven handled his music. Upon learning that he was a perfectionist, makes me wonder if his obsession was unhealthy. We can even argue that maybe his obsession was a good thing, as it allowed him to create music that is still well-known and popular today.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I love the last part. Giving life a purpose really is the key and is what so many people chase after! Being deaf but also still be writing music and going for perfection just shows how much he was meant to be successful!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If he had problems with his hearing how he knows that the notes are not perfect and he corrected them many times unless he got the perfect one like without listening how he did this .

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    1. I was wondering the same thing and i honestly cant imagine making music without hearing. I could understand being blind or mute but deaf? perhaps making music was like breathing to that genius.

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    2. In the beginning of the omnibus episode the host said Beethoven “trusted his imagination rather than his ears” that statement made me look at how he woukd actual go about the direction of his music.

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    3. Okay I agree, I honestly cannot get over that he was deaf and it’s still something that boggles my mind because it’s ludacris. I would feel so helpless without my hearing and to think that he created sucked greatness without his is really fascinating.

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  3. There are a few parts of the reading that I found to be interesting this week.

    First, I would like to address the “Great man” theory. I’ve always thought about this concept, but I didn’t actually know there was name to it. I believe this idea of having a there be a “great man” or most influential figure is what created the idea of things being overrated. In today’s culture, we look at certain individuals as if they were the ones to accomplish everything. We look past the “little guys” that make it all possible. Essentially the “great man” theory reminds of the front man or lead singer of a band who shines as the face of the band. They are usually the ones in the middle since they are deemed to be the most important within the group. We never really take into consideration the talents of those with help and lift the talents of the “great man”.

    Secondly, it’s crazy to think about the praise and recognition that Beethoven receives. Reading through how some of his music is used, really puts into perspective of how much of a symbol he has as a “great man”. One thing I learned through the accomplishments of his music is how the Nazis actually considered Beethoven’s music to be the apex of humanity. That is a extremely bold statement and it’s exactly what makes Beethoven a “great man”. This is a prime example of how the masses believe that Beethoven’s music shaped an era.

    Lastly, the obvious reason for Beethoven’s popularity is due to how talented he was and the quality of his music. Upon further reading, I realized that Beethoven inspired musicians with his unique style of music. In the article it even states how influential his music was by shifting the formula of Romantic Era music. As I am typing out this response, I am listening to Beethoven’s No. 5 and I can hear the long and powerful tones within his song. One of the final things I have a comment on is how Beethoven tends to be a perfectionist in creating his music. Would the difficulty in playing his music have something to do with the appeal it has with musicians? Is this something of a challenge that musicians feel the need to overcome?

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  4. In this week’s discussion we learned about the “great man” theory. We often give high praise to a leader without giving any credit or thinking about anyone else.

    My question is, who are some people that you think we tend to give too much credit to? If we really think about it, what are some of the actions that these influential people have done that wouldn’t have been possible without outside help? Does this same question apply to anyone you know who creates music, be it a composer, DJ, or a band?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I agree with what you’re saying. I think it was this past summer but I’m sure it’s happened before where producers of rap music want to be recognized as artists as well because they feel they don’t get the credit they deserve. And if you think about it without producers some of the songs we listen to now would be garbage or not as good.

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    2. This weeks blog post was very informative my knowledge on Beethoven has exceeded, but the thing that stood out to to me the most is The Great Man Theory. I read this blog post and I read an article online about The Great Man theory and it says “THE TENDENCY NOW, IN MUSIC as in politics, is to distrust the “great man” theory of history. People are likelier to spout generalities about culture or trends in taste, analyses of sex, economics and race, self-consciously sage comments about the evolution of the art. This quote to me means that even today there is still one person who is getting all the credit like Beethoven did back in the day. For instance Drake is a very good rapper if not the best but there is people who are around him who needs some credit for who he is today.

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    3. @maxngan Yes I believe this same question applies to a composer for instance some of the most influential musicians that we have seen in this decade has a group of writers who write for them I believe they are called ghost writers, so there is no them without people writing music for them. So yes other people deserve credit too.

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    4. I think we often give credit to the person not responsible for the good or bad music we hear today. I think there are many artist that don’t get the recognition they deserve for the hard work and dedication put to the music or projects we just don’t think twice about SOMEtimes. And we focus on the artists that don’t have much talent nowadays.

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    5. @maxngan
      I think that musicians who use lip-syncing and pre-recorded music as parts of their live performance are given too much credit for a good performance. These acts seems to me to be a severe disservice to the audience who pay good money to see their favorite musician(s) perform. I believe that the audience who attends these live performances should be given a refund if they don’t get what they paid for which should be LIVE music not pre-recorded. If this reoccurs in future performances I feel that those musicians should be boycotted. Those type of performances don’t deserve a paying audience. This applies to any sort of musician whether it be a singer, composer,DJ or a band.

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  5. it was interesting to read how it said you don’t have to be exceptionally great to listen to a musicans music but the truth is its people like Beethoven that no matter the century your in his music will never die because for the obvious reason that he was really good a musical genius someone who achieved the impossible he didn’t just play and everyone was awed by his talent but he surpassed other musicians all while being deaf. its true what they say hard work really pays off. and his certainly did his music was big and powerful and moving it was a big change in the romantic era it was loud and intense.this was definitely not something they were used to at the time.

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  6. my question is we talk about how historical figures like Beethoven’s music will never die out and is still used in this time do you think the artists from today will have as strong and powerful impact on generations to come as how it was hundreds of years ago? or is the music we have lacking that same quality that there was back then and die out eventually?

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    1. When you hear the names Ray Charles , Frank Sinatra or Biggie. Their faces and maybe even their songs appear in your head. There’s a reason for this, the brain has associated the song or artist with certain events in your life. These connections are what make you constantly think of them and consider them memorable or great. So yes I think today’s artist will have a strong impact on future generations.

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      1. To answer the question I’d also like to include that a musician’s impact also would just come from all their cards and that they were in the right profession at the right time. An example being Biggie’s rap style, for the time he was an artist his rap style stood out and standing out of course is a factor for addressing someone’s musical impact.

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    2. Todays reading was quite interesting its clear that the name alone Beethoven carry itself a long way through music and history alone. Cleary after reading todays reading Beethoven was definitely musician to see and listen back then , any musician that can create spiritual connection for many listeners and inspiring and making the listeners feel like they never felt before is impressive. Almost like he was in his own lane, connecting to many people helping them discover something about themselves that they never felt or knew before. to answer your question I do believe artists from today will leave an impact on generations to come because music is the best way for as listeners to look back. For example if you take a favorite song you listen to now and twenty years go by you still will remember that song and the type of impact it made in your life. if you where going through a bad break up, finding your first love, or it just makes you feel happy. Just how Beethoven inspired people and made an impact in those people generations is the same way artist today can make an impact in our culture and further to come thats what makes music so special. my question is what makes music impactful?

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  7. This post was interesting because like you’ve said somehow we’ve all heard of Beethoven. Now that I think about it the first computer I had already came installed with Beethoven music which I thought was weird. Beethoven had so many accomplishments but I never saw him as a villain type figure until now. It’s crazy to think he was deaf yet he was a “perfectionist”… how? Nothing against deaf people or anyone with a disabilities but you know that’s impossible without help. We don’t hear about those people do we?

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    1. A question I have is do you think those who helped Beethoven stayed quiet in reguards of the time era? Or because they just didn’t want credit?

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    2. I agree with you because he had a lot of accomplishment and I was surprise as well because I didn’t know he was deaf

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  8. My question is do you guys think there would ever be a change where the people behind the scenes who are helping these Musicians would ever get credit for their work or are they going to be continued taken for granted for helping these Musicians?

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    1. I don’t think the people who helped contribute to that success are unintentionally discredited. Only because I don’t think you can give credit for someone else’s passion and persistent in creating amazing work. I’m not saying they arent important but I feel maybe when talking about giving credit to someone, what part exactly are we giving credit to?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. @rwhite22
      One of the ways I can see these people getting more credit is by banding together and unionizing and charging more of a premium for their services. This way if they don’t get public recognition at least they would be getting some more financial recognition. Otherwise I think this lack of recognition will continue. Your question made me think of a question in my mind. Do you think advances in technology might make the roles of these “behind the scenes people” obsolete in the future?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Many people was inspired by Beethoven. I think that it was amazing when Beethoven wrote his symphony because he was going blind and deaf but the fact that he had to use his imagination was just great. He was a hero to many people. I’ve always like that piece of music he wrote because its very catchy and whenever I listen to it, it would stuck in my head all day long.

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  10. it was very interesting to read about such a great. I’ve always hear people talk about Beethoven but I didn’t know the story behind him, all I know was he wrote a piece of music but I didn’t know that he was blind and deaf. But it was truly amazing that he was truly amazing that he was such a big inspiration to many people and my self because of the great work be did.

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    1. hi @serena14355 in my opinion although we don’t acknowledge as much the behind the scenes people I don’t believe we give credit to the wrong people because the people we give credit to deserve to be credited that doesn’t mean one deserves credit and the other doesn’t its not one over the other the obvious people deserve credit and ya the behind the scenes people do deserve recognition as well I don’t believe there is wrong in a such a scenario.

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    2. @serena14355 reading your question , i thought who are the ” wrong people ” .. each man’s perspective for their own. your question will be a difficult one to answer because one .. what makes them the “wrong people” .. their musical creativity or appearance might not be to your liking but that doesn’t make them wrong. two to receive the recognition they do , they must’ve been determined to be seen or heard which should say something. when you say give credit to the wrong people, what we are giving them credit for? thus where credit is due, one deserves it .

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    3. I believe we sometimes do give credit to the wrong people. I feel like their are some people who take advantage of others and will take credit for someone elses work when we (the audience) have no idea. We don’t give credit to the ones who deserve it.

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    4. @serena14355 I think rather than giving credit to the wrong people, I think it is in people’s nature to want to focus on the simple like what’s in front of them. When listening to music I rarely think who produced this melody, rhythm, harmony, etc. I just think of the artist’s contribution and it’s not wrong to but we should also think of everyone and everything that went into making music.

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    5. We as a society always give credit to he wrong people. However, it may not be our fault always. Some of the people who have aided great figures of the past have preferred to remain in the dark. They would rather not be seen in the limelight for their own reasons and pass it off to someone more willing.

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  11. To answer the question this is true that most of the people who are behind the curtain doesnt have so much
    appreciation or people barely know them . Even they should also known because thay are master in their fields but they cannot can get as much credit like the heroes these passionate people like Beethoven,These people are legends these people make histories because a passion in which a person is working after being deaf is not achievable by everyone .

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  12. It is truly fact that Beethoven was unrecognized and that when the Beethoven movie came out no one really payed any mind to the name so if you would walk outside saying his name someone’s first instinct would be that is the name of the dog from that movie.

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  13. My response to Serena is yes i think people do give credit to the wrong people because someone can be so talented but so unrecognized but once someone come out with something one person enjoys a lot of people would just follow the leader and never recognize real talent

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  14. This week’s discussion caught my attention for a number of reasons. First being the huge impact Beethoven had on music history. This reading mentions “great man theory” which I’m glad wasn’t the approach with this music class. Giving credit to few artists due to their extraordinary work for a entire music period is absurd. I believe one must’ve received help to reach a high social status. What about the credit to their fans? I dont believe any great artist would get the recognition they do without their fans or manager. Another reason is overlooking the talent that wasn’t all too popular during his time. Woman were known to never receive the recognition as men. What about them ? Second, the tons of support and recognition Beethoven received and still do til this day. According to this reading Beethoven’s fifth symphony was an representation of humans of Earth to the universe. For one’s work to represent the whole wide-world explains how amazing his work is. During those periods of war and uncertainty, Beethoven music was known to give spiritual support. Proven where many listeners, such as E.T.A Hoffmann, confessed to feeling a connection and experienced a state of flow while listening to Beethoven’s work. The Nazi Party was a powerful force during Beethoven musical period. To receive acceptance and support for his achievements is a huge statement of how inspirational he was. I would love for a powerful army known to kill masses to find me inspirational. Please do , I dont wanna die ! aha
    Lastly being the actual products and the struggles Beethoven had to overcome to produce such amazing work. First time learning of his disability, Deafness, took me back a bit. Being such a great figure in music with an disability is the main reason to applaude him. According to the video clip provided in this reading, Beethoven was also developing blindness during his important days. The two main body functions needed to compose were affected due to an infection but that never stop Beethoven. I believe Beethoven possess strong qualities that made him into phenomenal musician he was. He was determined and devoted to perfect his music. He was strong minded to not allow this weaknesses to deter him. After reading this week’s discussion I can now see why he is praised the way he is. Overcoming struggles such as Beethoven’s and displaying obsession of his passion. I will now give him the proper recognition he deserves.

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  15. I thought it was interesting to compare Beethoven to a hero. Although unconventional, he certainly fulfills the properties outlined in the article and is definitely worthy to make him so respected.

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    1. He’s a hero because he overcomed and did the extraordinary. He’s a brave guy. He gives me hope that anything is possible.

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  16. My question is are there benefits to “the great man theory”? Isn’t it important to celebrate those whose contribution greatly affected the landscape of an industry like Beethoven and Mozart while taking into consideration the other factors and influences.

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    1. There are benefits to “the great man theory”. For obvious reasons, the money, popularity, audiences reaction, and the satisfaction the artists feels once they are done performing, and or composing.
      Appreciating the other roles in the matter, is important but not many are going to hunt them out. People like what comes easy. Its not all that important to an average person who has helped shaped this composer into a star. They typically applaud the artist and go about their day. Now, if a team members name is mentioned in the program for example, thats now a different approach to how said artist is looked at in the “great man theory”.

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  17. It’s true, everyone knows who Beethoven is and how much of a great musician he was. But It’s crazy to think that he was deaf yet he was a perfectionist? How was that possible for him?

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    1. Definitely an extraordinary feat, reminds me of Stevie Wonder who is blind but is recognized as one of the worlds most respected pianists and singers. Just goes to show that nothing is stopping you from being great, regardless of disability, if you work hard you can be good at something.

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  18. I’m pretty sure it was tough for Beethoven to continue composing his music when he went deaf. You’d think he lost everything because he went deaf. But I think that he gave us hope, and inspired so many people on not giving up even when you lose everything. He was able to continue doing what he loved, and I believe thats one of the reasons why everyone knows about him and why he’s “important”.

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  19. Bethoven’s music was a game changer. I wonder if he knew his music would impact others till this very day. He’s a huge figure in society because he was a enlightened thinker which caused him to open his mind up and do what wasn’t common in his time.

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  20. How did Beethoven have the confidence to keep going as his body failed him? To become this influential figure took hard work and I wish I knew his secret.

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    1. I think Beethoven was able to continue making music due to his passion. It reminds me of people who were athletes and have an accident which can ruin their career but are still passionate about it and power through it and still performance at the same quality as they did before.

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  21. I find it fascinating that Hoffman described beethovens music as ” a realm of monstrous and immeasurable”. As Beethoven struggled to perfect his craft with his lost of hearing, his struggles could’ve reflected in his music. However, he managed to overcome this obstacle but was he assisted along the way or did he discover a new way to learn how to compose without the most beneficial sense?

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  22. We probably all heard about Beethoven, his music and the time that it came out but I’m sure not a lot of people know about his story and his upbringing which really interested me about this reading. All the things he went through and the dedication and passion he had really does catch my attention. There’s many artists that broke through their hardships and worked hard for the music and my question is who do you think, in the music industry, has or would dedicate themselves to their passions through y’all their hardships like Beethoven did? What kind of artist does this make you? Are there many artists out there that just give out what their given to and don’t care as much about their craft?

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  23. This discussion was very interesting and brought up some good points about Beethoven that are overlooked. Most people I know are aware that Beethoven was deaf. I also agree that when putting so much focus on the “great men” we overlook the small yet unique accomplishments of the less recognized. Such as the Italian composer Jacopo Peri who is credited as the writer for probably the first opera and Dutch Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck who is credited as one of the first major keyboard composers of the Baroque era.

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  24. A question I have is how many lesser known composers have probably done more than we think for musical culture but were out shined by more charismatic individuals or artists with a better story to tell about their life.

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    1. The answer of “how many”, will probably never be answered but there has definitely been talent that was not so mainstream or didnt have the platform to reach a large audience. For example I listen to a lot of artists on soundcloud and other streaming sites that are not so mainstream but are very talented and should have more exposure. The fact is that not everybody can have the spotlight, and some will make it and some wont.

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  25. Very informative article I found it very interesting the fact that Beethoven’s music was cosidered to be innovative at that time and how he took a risk and created something completely different. He mark the beginning of an era. I also really liked how proud Germans are of their musical legacy to the world. I am happy they appreciate his works of art something extraordinary not only what it sounds like but what it respresenrs in different time periods.

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  26. Nowadays in this era of music, everything becomes so accessible and that’s just due to the technology as well as what the audience has chosen to accept. This, of course, can create an oversaturation within a certain market and genre, hip-hop recently has had been critically acclaimed and placed to be pop or popular music which is a big achievement of course. The thing about it is that there’s a “generation gap” and that there’s a disconnect between different styles within hip-hop. Purists, Oldheads, etc. they all seem to big up a certain era as a golden age when they bring arguments to the table for those who don’t agree. But if something is regarded as a golden age will that be the only standard and that hip-hop won’t be in a second golden age? To an extent, it may help bring certain artists to a pedestal but at the same time, I feel like it forces the narrative that they can’t be outdone. Anyone that is genuinely passionate about the culture should be concerned, the culture is like an inner world that surpasses music and art. It shouldn’t be the case where there’s a narrative that prevents a second golden era and just the growth and progression in general. I honestly know that I’m not 100% on either side because I can see the flaws in both and my stance would just be that as long as it furthers and helps propel the culture I don’t see myself being against a certain era. I can’t, however, agree with how the faces of the new generation are also pushing this “oldhead” narrative that is just used to discredit a style just because it doesn’t always coincide with “clout” or whatever is cool now. Although I did say that they’re using the golden era as a standard there’s a reason I can understand that they beat the new artists to the punch by just being able to “originate” it. The two different generations should try to find a common ground and have a respect for each other, and also that any new era should be given a chance to be a second “golden age”. I feel like if anyone is concerned we should start having these conversations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To add a question I’d like to ask if you think there are any artists in (specifically) hip-hop today that are able to surpass their predecessors in the “golden era” of hip-hop?

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  27. Credit should be distributed throughout the working parties. There is more than one person that contributes to ones success. It is important to give credit accordingly and never downplay ones participation either. On the other hand, those who’ve helped contribute to ones success, don’t always need to the credit nor seek it. Remember the quote “The loudest person in the room is always the weakest”. So to answer your question, @serea, credit sometimes gets distributed incorrectly. One must always do their best to be mindful of that.

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  28. Reading this article and seeing how the we all have this positive perception of Beethoven is fulfilling because, I was taught at a young age to appreciate him. He was like the piano king! Beethoven was a crowd favorite and his pieces were a music assesment teacher’s favorite composer to prey on. Beethoven’s pieces were a challenge. Knowing how to tell his story well was always a terror. We had to fell what he felt and play above that standard. If we didn’t hold a certain tempo, or finger the keys correctly, be prepared to get scolded or end practice early. During my competition years, watching other kids freak out about passing or failing always scared me because I thought they always played well. When the teacher would post our grades or mailed the results to our piano teacher houses, lessons were always easy and chocolate was always the prize. Thank you for this reading cause it felt like I was visiting a friend I hadn’t heard about in years.

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  29. Does anyone recognize another artist part of the “great man theory” ? Women too..
    Are the any composers other then the germans that should be part of the popular composer platform ?

    Liked by 1 person

  30. The reason why I don’t like the idea of the great man theory is because I believe it puts too much focus into classical music and in a sense overshadows all other music genres. There are so many levels to music, “It’s a trip” as Quincy Jones said recently, so narrowing it down to the greats all being classical musicians is illogical and I believe doing so discredits composers of other genres and steals their shine. What I mean by this is musical eras sort of go like this; we have “the greats” (Mozart, Beethoven etc) the general public can name these artists to their genre, then we have other genres who dominated eras lets start with blues.. I don’t think the average person can name any blues legends or jazz. Then we get to rock & roll and we all of a sudden have so many household names in music again and a well renowned hall of fame. My point here is that through out history, society has always had its mainstream and its underground. Usually what is underground is raw and real and what is mainstream is glossy and over exaggerated in talent and in public appreciation and the latter takes the spot in history as being iconic or great.

    My question this week is does race have anything to do with who we consider to be “the greats” in music?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. By the way I do like Beethoven’s music and believe he deserves all of his public appreciation.. definitely not saying he was overrated but I just wanted to add something else too think about to the discussion.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course I don’t think there’s any relationship between race and “the greats”.

      But I’m very interested in your comments and I agree with the point of view about “great man theory”. I think this also has its own reasons –people just remember the champion and forget about the runner-up. Classical music was so great at that time that other music lost its own “light”, as the pop music for now.

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  31. Beethoven is a great man and his music is so wonderful and perfect.
    I have been learn about Beethoven’s life, is through the novel of Hikaru Sugii.
    The most impressive part of me is one of the paragraph in his novel ,is the protagonist discusses with his grandfather, if Beethoven has not suffered all kinds of suffering in life. Whether it will make him more great or not.
    he has to suffer such terrible hardships before he reaches the pinnacle.
    Even now it has such a great influence on other musicians.

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  32. My problem is. For example, Beethoven, his life is full of pain, but he eventually became a great person,
    Do you think suffering can affect someone’s greatness?
    Do you think that pain is to make him greater? or, if there is no pain, he will be greater?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that great people our only great when you understand where they started and where they ended up! I believe Struggle is one of the biggest motivators.

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  33. Beethoven was blind for his adult life but still made music and was a perfectionist till the end. My question is it possible that he could know how people were playing music despite not hearing. Maybe he can feel vibrations of the music? Im baffled.help!

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    1. to answer your question , vibration is definitely a major source for the disabled to learn/play music. with practice you get to learn which keys or notes have a certain vibration. i’ve previously shown a video of a deaf lady in an musical competition singing with her shoes off to feel the vibration. she was marvelous! will leave the link below
      , take a look . in our previous online discussion, dr.jones provided more video clips of the disabled learning and understanding music.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. I also found it interesting that they never was able to determine the cause of Beethoven going deaf, but speculate like typhus, auto-immune disorders such as systemic lupus Eratosthenes, and even his habit of immersing his head in cold water to stay awake might have been the cause.

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  35. Its crazy how many times i heard the fifth symphony and never knew which exact composer made it until now. It was great to see the fifth symphony broken down like that and to see the direction Beethoven was heading and how the notes he crossed out would of sounded. The way Mr.Bernstein would try to explain Beethoven musical style and direction for this made me appreciate the fifth symphony even more than all the pervious time I heard before and look into more of Beethovens music.

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  36. in today’s music industry , who can you compare to Beethoven that equals or surpass his achievements ? keeping in mind the music culture have changed since his time. i believe nowadays most music created doesnt hold the significant as Beethoven’s did. actually learning about classic music also comparing it to todays music , its like oh my , why such a dramatic change, and in my opinion not for the better.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was thinking long and hard about this and seriously cannot think of anyone who I can compare to Beethoven! I find that really sad.

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    2. It’s hard to compare to Beethoven especially since music like that isn’t made anymore and his special circumstances make it all the more unique.

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  37. The way Beethoven composed music with drive and the fact his music was seen as louder, bolder than anything that had been composed before him (Which made his compositions quite different) Would you say Beethoven became a blueprint for upcoming composers to be different? For example How they composed their music ?

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  38. I think Beethoven’s determination and perfectionism for his work, despite his disability, was what made him great. And I think many artists today still have that passion that makes them great. I feel that every genre of music there’s always “the great artist or artists” that really innovate the way muisc is heard. In the genre of classic rock many believe that the Beatles hold the title of that genre and others might believe it was the Rolling Stones. Neither are wrong. Both bands have left an impact during that decade and till this day.

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  39. My question is do you think an artist is only great if they leave an impression or an impact in the music industry? And how can we determine they will leave such an impression on the music industry?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To answer your question, Yes, I think that that an artist is only considered great if they have an impact on the music industry. They also would need to make an impact on their listeners as well. I say this because there has to be some sort of reason as to why people listen to artist songs. Obviously it has to do because they like it and maybe when they want to relax they listen to their songs, or when they want to party they listen to their music, either way it has some sort of impact on its listeners and the music industry sees that. I don’t think its about the money because money cannot buy happiness and cannot force people to like you as an artist.

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  40. The Great Man Theory is the reason why a lot of us know who Beethoven is. Before this article I only knew who he was because of it. As an example, I only knew who he was because of his symphony 5 and I never really listened to anything else. Maybe I have of course in a movie or show where his music was used but never realized it. I find it amazing that someone’s music from about 200 years ago is still used today.

    On the other hand I feel like many people (like myself) only know him for the short answer stated in the article, his music was really good. After reading the article and doing research, it was more than just his music, it was the person who he was and the influence he had during his time. I think that this needs to change.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. I feel that this reading was a perfect example of a true underdog story. After reading through the post I thought of a quote that I once read:”Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
    -Calvin Coolidge
    It seems to me Beethoven was someone who understood this very well. For someone to be great in anything they must find their own formula for success and apply that formula with persistence and effort. Beethoven was someone who knew that there are no limits on our capabilities in achieving success even if one might be limited. Even if one might be limited physically like Beethoven was. Beethoven found that as long as he was”A hard worker and perfectionist” Drjonesmusic. “Ludwig van Beethoven (Online discussion #6).” Dr. Jones Music Classes, 3 Mar. 2018, drjonesmusic.me/2018/03/05/ludwig-van-beethoven-online-discussion-6-spring-2018/. nothing could stand in his way.

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  42. I pose the following question: If Beethoven were alive today, do you think he would partner up with some of today’s mainstream composers and keep his influences not only alive and moving, but diverse? What if he produced a track with Kanye or DJ Khaled, would you listen to it?

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  43. It always puzzled my mind about how a person such as Beethoven could be regarded as the “father” of classical music, especially when there have been so many wonderful composers before and after him. After reading this blog post, it’s easy to see why. Beethoven was groundbreaking for his time; he defied societal norms and made his music. It’s amazing! I stumbled across an article during my search in the importance of Beethoven in musical history – https://academic.oup.com/mq/article/93/3-4/361/1046003 It’s really interesting how universal Beethoven’s music really is. In the article they discuss how they performed a classical concert for inmates at an upstate prison in NY & how the inmates were ecstatic and connecting with the music. It’s just amazing how universal Beethoven’s music really is!

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Do you guys think that there is a possibility to have a modern day Beethoven in today’s day and age? With the influx of technology and music being able to mass produced, is it really possible to have someone come along and be another Beethoven?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we have come close or even surpassed him but it is hard to measure these kinds of things because they are mostly opinion based. Personally, I believe that Michael Jackson has had a similar effect on the world, and the love that people had for him and his music was unmatched to any modern day artist. He was known as the “King of Pop,” and was known to be a perfectionist when it came to his singing and dancing.

      Liked by 1 person

  45. I love the fact that Beethoven’s music was shocking to people that it was louder, bigger, and bolder and the idea of connecting people with a sense of higher power. Also it was mentioned that “people believed music could offer them entry into unseen worlds, and composers tried to live up to these expectations”. I thought this has always been a great way to think about music. People let music take them to the next level, a spiritual level, and because that’s not how they normally feel, they worship that even more. Moreover, his disability was definitely another factor that made him so great besides simply his music. I could not imagine how I would feel if I lost an arm since I love play basketballs so much. I would definitely feel super frustrated and not motivated at all, but he fought it through and that is honestly crazy to me and of course admiring.

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  46. Beethoven talent indeed will always be remarkable. Listening to the lines of Beethoven I believe he is a special person because what he created has a lot of meaning to people onto this day. In spite of his disability for some one who can’t see. That also have me thinking in depth because a lot of others with their good eyes skills can’t match up to Beethoven. I believe everyone born with a gift but people have to know their purpose, what is it they are passionate about and people like Beethoven I feel was on the right track in life fulfilling his purpose leaving an unforgettable music which will always be remembered for his creation. I also believe the fanboy Leonard Bernstein is also on the right track of breaking down things which was amazing because I found it intresting watching his video, he give me a clearer picture of Beethoven effort.

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  47. I believe that Beethoven was always in the back of our heads because he was a dramatic change for classical music. Classical music was always shown to be soft and romantic and people during the classical era became a custom to it but when Beethoven became famous for his loud and heart pumping music. Another dramatic change in history are movies. Movies 50 years ago were black and white and simple, usually drama based and filled with classical music. Where as now movies are have color and most of the movies made today are action film filled with loud sounds and hip hop music like the new black panther. So Beethoven’s music was one of the main point where music began to change and progress.

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    1. I believe so because every musician draws inspiration from someone or something. A mainstream artist/ musician may have been influenced by a fellow musician who idolized one of the “Greats”

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  48. Beethoven is a great example towards making a point that learning about an artists background and where the music comes from makes the experience so much better. How it makes you feel may change too or it would intensify.

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  49. My question is are political changes or advancements in technology and everyday life something that can trigger changes in music periods? Does that serve as inspiration ? To mark a new era

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  50. My question is are political changes or advancements in technology and everyday life something that can trigger changes in music periods? Does that serve as inspiration ? To mark a new era I

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  51. Musk 101 it’s clear that Daniel Stibelt isn’t better than Beethoven since a few thought he was. He lost when he challenge Beethoven. Beethoven indeed special and the amazing thing about it he had an eye disability and still was able to defeat some one who have the eyes see thing to learn as well. Beethoven a special soul with a sound mind

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  52. What makes a hero, a hero is someone who defies the odds and makes an impact on the world no matter how small or big the deed. One of these heroes was Ludwig Van Beethoven, Beethoven’s music was and is still used widely in so many events such as the fall of the Berlin wall that separated East Germany and West Germany, the ode to joy from Beethoven’s symphony was played. The Nazi Party in Germany even played Beethoven because of its German culture and human achievement. But a hero doesn’t only mean doing something great for the world to remember you by, it also means to leave your legacy to inspire others to be greater than themselves. Leonard Bernstein was one person who admired Beethoven for what he was, for example he even tried to replicate one of his symphonies which is very hard to do, he even breaks it down for us to show how it was created and how to perform it. So overall i think that a hero is someone who leaves off their legacy to another for them to be greater than themselves.

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  53. The “Great man” theory in this weeks discussion is SO TRUE. Throughout my highschool life, I’ve been in several band, music and choir classes and they all seemed to point their teaching direction towards people as “popular” as beethoven, etc. Can you name one single person who HASNT been told of him? Highly unlikely. I’ve never thought about the whole idea of only praising a certain “great” group of people but it appeals to me that others who are just as good, aren’t recognised nearly half as much. This can be applied or thought about with lots of people and situations. With that being said, i’m not trying to imply that these people don’t deserve their praise because I am so fascinated by Beethoven and the fact that he was deaf, Pretty sure i’ve talked about this multiple times but I only just recently found this out from being in your class and it really just sets him apart, more so than He did before.

    One question I have is; Even though there are other great people such as Beethoven, why don’t they receive as much recognition? This can be said with today’s artists as well. I know of so many “underground” artists that are amazing but don’t exactly have the popularity of people such as Drake, Rihanna, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To answer your question i believe that many “underground” artists aren’t famous because they borrow alot from other artists thus they aren’t as well known, your voice and your lyrics i guess must be more original.

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  54. What I took from this article is how we often idolize people with talent whether that person be a musician, actor, or athlete. This fascination with talent can tend to have us overlook someone’s flaws or anything negative about an individual. Often times their words, and their opinions are held to a higher standard than that of the average person, some of these talented performers are even worshiped in society. Its interesting to see how Beethoven and other great musicians from centuries ago were treated in the manner of which we treat talented celebrities of this era.

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  55. It’s interesting to see Beethoven be described as a hero. His work continues to inspire other even now to this day. I think the video really shows his passion for Beethoven’s work and that is so beautiful. I think Beethoven gets a great amount of credit for his work and how it inspired composers now to create great work as well.

    My question is, is it a bad thing for someone to be a great man? Why or why not?

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  56. My Question is was Leonard Bernstein part of the great man theory? because he was inspired by Beethoven and inspired many others and influenced many others to Beethoven’s music. Or does he have to do something by himself to be part of the great man theory?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very interesting question. I think his love and passion for music encouraged him to improve his skills , and become one of the best, if not the most original

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  57. My question, if a musician such as Beethoven, or Mozart, had been born in a different era. Would their music remain as impactful as it is today?

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  58. Out of the songs I ever learned in piano Beethoven’s moonlight sonata was the one I enjoyed the most. That is because every single time I play it sounds different depending on how I am feeling and I believe that is part of the beauty and magic of Beethoven’s music it is always melancholic but satisfying in a way that words cannot describe. Beethoven gave life and death with his music and even after so many years today in 2018 we appreciate and value his music more than ever. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tr0otuiQuU

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    1. This is actually my favorite song by Beethoven. I find the music to be so beautiful and mysterious. I think that it’s so interesting that depending on the mood your in will guide the timbre of the song for that day.

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  59. Beethoven was a very talented, and blessed classical musician. This article expresses love and passion for Beethoven , because all of his music were known as master pieces. He started the movement for other classical musicians of his time to join, the road to greatness, and influenced much of their work.

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  60. Beethoven is a name that we have heard for nearly as long as we have known about the word music. His music can be heard in a plethora of places such as on tv, radio, church, concert hall as well as many other places. Beethoven is obviously one the great classical composers that we still hold very near and dear to our hearts in the 21st century. Many music as well as movements have been inspired by his work alone. Movements such as impressionism and expressionism have some root in tonal music, such as Beethoven, even if they wanted their music to be the complete opposite. They were still making this music with Beethoven in mind. To see a man that was not liked very much and also deaf but still able to make some of the most beautiful music of all time is truly inspiring. His art will continue to live on in our culture.

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