Bonding with Beethoven (2)

I’m sick in bed with a recurrent sinus infection. I listen to the quartet, watch movies– ”Eternal Beloved” and  “In Search of Beethoven”—and study the criticism.  I’m frustrated by the incomprehensible music theory but the scholars’ descriptive language helps me grasp the elusive central theme of the Adagio.  Lewis Lockwood calls it a “long and winding melody,” Michael Steinberg “a rapt and expansive melody,” Joseph Kerman “a famous miracle of beauty.”  Awakened last night by a violent cough, I sat up on the couch and for the first time recognized bits of the core theme in the six subsequent variations. I thought of Beethoven’s struggle with disease, deafness, isolation, and self-loathing.  His creativity transformed his suffering into beauty. It saved him from suicide.

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