PART ONE OF A SERIES (SEE PART TWO)
Most kids these days think Mozart is the name of Katy Perry’s chinchilla and Beethoven is that dog in the movie their parents showed them when they were kids to keep them quiet in the van after drinking too many Slurpees at the Qwikee Stop after soccer practice. Ha ha! Crazy kids! Little do they know about the world of adventure and suspicious diseases that awaits them in the study of music composers from the 18th century (Official Motto: “Well, At Least Some Of Us Have Toilets Now”.)
A crucial musical figure who straddled both the Classical and Romantic eras of music, Beethoven must have had an incredibly wide stance. But, this not withstanding, he was apparently also able to sit at a piano bench and compose a lot of music, which you can still hear today if you listen to that one station that broadcasts “All Things Considered”.
One bad apple doesn’t spoil the wig powder
[pullquote type=”right”]Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father, not unlike the Jackson 5, except without the stylish dancing and Afros.[/pullquote]Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, which, according to Wikipedia, “has developed a concept of international co-operation and maintains sustainability oriented project partnerships in addition to traditional city Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…… Sorry, dozed off there. I’m sure Bonn is a very exciting place, and when Beethoven lived there, he must have enjoyed roaming its fun-filled streets full of Germans and wig powder shops. Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father, not unlike the Jackson 5, except without the stylish dancing and Afros. Although tradition has it his father was a harsh instructor, often driving the young prodigy to tears, at least he didn’t have to sing “One Bad Apple” on the Flip Wilson Show.
Obeying official Child Prodigy Rules, Beethoven was expected to show off for snooty courtesans with fake moles on their cheeks at as young of an age as possible. Therefore, he made his first appearance in March 1778 at age 6, where posters show he opened for “Honey Hornblower and the Stuttgart Steppers” at the Kaiserkeller, beating The Beatles there by 146 years. His first three piano sonatas, called “Kurfürst” (literally, “Gesundheit”) were published in 1783 and turned him into an overnight nothing, because, let’s face it, no one cares much about piano sonatas.
Like most teenagers in Bonn, Beethoven also spent his share of time getting into trouble doing burnouts on the Kappellmeister’s lawn in his Chevy, and getting into baton fights with rival gangs of composers. Still, he persevered, and soon found himself ready to pursue his life’s dream of becoming a Full Time Composer (Official Motto: “At Least I’m Not A Painter, Mom”).
Leaving the Big Macs behind
After graduation, Beethoven, as most accomplished musicians have throughout history, worked at a MacDonald’s for a year while trying to make his way as a composer in the Big City. Soon he began to gain the attention of local music supporters, such as Count Ferdinand von Waldstein, who, despite his name, was, unfortunately, not a vampire. It was through supporters such as these that he was able to pursue his craft as a composer, and, more importantly, to vow never to eat a Big Mac again. Beethoven also supported his income by playing viola in the court orchestra, which familiarized him with many important viola jokes, such as, “Hans, what’s the difference between a viola and a violin?” (pause for effect) “A viola incorporates a longer combustible period relative to the width, girth and weight of the respective instruments.” Trust me, back then, that was a knee slapper.
In 1792, having grown as a musician and having finally paid his dues to the Local Musicians and Viola Joke Union 102, he left Bonn for Vienna, which is in Austria, where the Sound of Music was filmed, but without any Beethoven songs. Sending his friend off to Vienna, Count Waldstein wrote in a farewell message: “Through uninterrupted diligence you will receive Mozart’s spirit through Haydn’s hands. Also, try the weinerschnitzel at The Brown-Wigged Pig! (Official Motto: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Wig, No Pig)”. So Beethoven left for Vienna in a broken down VW van with faded flower power stickers on it, determined to make his way as an established musician in Vienna.