My nigga Beethoven

[This entry was originally posted in 作譜, but I figure it’s a lot more topical here. So I’m moving it.]

So. Beethoven is to blame for steering Western European music to atonality? Whatever.

Dylan Evans’ argument doesn’t really ring true with me. In essence, he says if Beethoven kept his emotions in check and wrote absolute music in its most absolute form, we wouldn’t have the indulgence of artistic ego.

So, bye bye, rock music. (And really, I consider Beethoven the first rock star, because he acted it. Back then, musicians were servants. Beethoven was having none of that.) And by implication, classical music today wouldn’t be in such doldrums if Beethoven’s darkness didn’t lead to Schoenberg and the thorniness of 20th Century music.

But what would have happened if Beethoven didn’t lead us down our mistaken path? I’m not clever enough to speculate.

I just know that in this Age of Information, I can draw inspiration from the emotional ghastliness of Beethoven’s indulgence as much as I can draw from the structural elegance of Haydn’s braininess. And it would be far less interesting not being able to resolve those ends of the spectrum.