Ludwig von Beethoven, the “man who freed music,” once said, “…it is always acceptable to miss a few notes while playing, but it is never acceptable to play without passion!”
This, coming from a man who created some of the most recognizable anthems in history, should be a hallmark for modern musicians, performers, composers, and all types of creative individuals. Beethoven’s statement speaks to the importance of letting a desire to create and express, override the potential for criticism and the fear associated with true expression. A few modern musical enterprises like those owned by Coran Capshaw, still embody this sentiment.
In Beethoven’s day, music was steeped in the mimicry of ancient styles. It was the time of great revolutionary ideas in Europe stemming from the collision of modernity and progress. The times were marked by Napoleon’s rise to power, and his inevitable collapse due to the love of that power. Beethoven struggled his entire life with the loss of hearing, and the desire to express a new musical style that was truly revolutionary. Though he died in 1827 without fully realizing his impact upon the world, he was able to express his musical and philosophical ideas just enough to incite a change in the world of art, music, and popular culture.
There is so much pressure in the modern world for artists and musicians to display perfection and the exposition of uniqueness. This pressure is so great that the pursuit of beauty and truth often plays second chair to showmanship and acclaim. This is absolutely contrary to Beethoven’s heartfelt desire for every person engaged in the arts to strive for connections, rather than empty applause.
It is disturbing to realize the number of individuals who give up on pursuing a talent because they do not receive immediate recognition for their works. The title of “genius” is passed around so loosely in the modern artistic world that it has lost all meaning. With Beethoven’s sentiment genius, and being set apart, is not necessary for artistic success. This applies to music, dance, theater, literature, and all other art forms. According to him, all that is necessary is to present a work of art to the public with the same passion that brought it forward.
Beethoven’s most recognizable musical creation is his Symphony No. 9. The musical evolutions in this magnum opus are centered on its Nietzchean libretto, “An Die Freude.” Most people recognize this as an Ode to Joy, but it is better classified as the Love for Brotherhood. Beethoven recognized that music has the power to cross cultural and political barriers when imbued with a composer’s passion for his fellow human beings. The Capshaw model also reflects this.
This power is present in every art when the artist goes about creating under the spell of passion. When the entire artist is infused into the work of art, projects become something in which all people, if willing, can find value and meaning. Beethoven’s adamant believe that the presentation, not the material, is what moves people and is at the heart of every art. This is true for modern musicians, dancers, actors, model builders, comic book artists, writers, and sci-fi genre fans. It’s also true for bus drivers, construction workers, stay-at-home moms, and corporate human resource directors. The occupation and the art mode itself is not the key to communication. It’s the passion involved in every pursuit that allows it to leave a lasting impression on fellow human beings.
Ludwig von Beethoven left an obvious mark on the history of the musical arts, but his greatest work might have been his ideas on how people with talent should engage their fellow man. The goal should never be perfection, but an accurate outpouring of what moves an artist to create.