What we all can learn from Beethoven


Growing up I had a rather harsh relationship with Beethoven.  I have very vivid memories of playing Fur Elise over and over again in front of my piano teacher Ms. Copeland.  Though it was one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions; it was not published until 40 years after his death.  While I have a great appreciation for the work and the artist “now” – back then; I wish the piece stayed undiscovered. lol

Most of us have heard the epic story of Beethoven going deaf and sawing off the legs of his piano so he could continue to write music via the vibration of the sounds off his floor.  The story is as classic as his music is. And “yes,” that story is inspiring; but let’s look at the entire scope here.

He started losing his hearing at age 26.

At 26; the world is supposed to be at your fingertips.  Most times your health and vigor are at all-time highs and your future is at its brightest.  At 26 my photography business was just starting to pick up and I was building a relationship with the woman I would eventually marry.  What if I had started going blind?  I’m not even sure if “photography” would have been a priority.  I would have been trying to figure out how to proceed with the rest of my life and probably battling depression.


What would you do?    If you’re an emcee and you’re voice was amputated from up under you?  If you’re a painter and arthritis took away your ability to paint or even feed yourself?  If you found yourself handicaped to fully do the one “thing” that makes you – YOU?  How would handle it?

We know Beethoven went through depression and even contemplated suicide.  We also know he lived and wrote music for another 25 years.  But what we don’t know is how big his threshold of “fight” was.  How deep was his inventory of will and robustness to continue to compose music at the highest level possible?  What if he had called it a career like a young pitcher with a burned out arm?  What if he cursed God and burned his piano?  What if the next 25 years of music had never been written?  What if Beethoven had been nothing more than a small blimp in music history? 

What if all he amounted to was a mere, “what could have been?”

Be immortal folks.