Beethoven’s Suffering…and Yours

No person relishes suffering. Most go to all extreme’s to avoid it. And why wouldn’t we?

Suffering from a simple gastric ailment, and given that one goes to the guy or gal wearing a white lab coat for their mensa-like medical meanderings, inevitably being given a prescription of pharma junk that, in 2 weeks, will have you back in their office, complaining about other ailments caused by the pharma junk they prescribed for you in the first place that now needs attention – suffering takes on new avenues of delight. Such is the West’s way of treating illnesses, giving you more bang (suffering) for your buck.

Maybe a long stretch here but in the “grandness” that life offers to all…with its suffering visiting each of us in a myriad of ways – when I was in college, studying classical music – thinking that I had the talent to someday – when the moon was full and fate swung my way for a few seconds – to make a living either playing the piano, or, if the gods were really ignoring my lack of talent…conducting a magnificent symphonic orchestra – my dream was rudely interrupted with my own sufferings.

Parathyroid tumors, pancreatitis and other joyful ailments struck me down when I was 19 years old, thereby extinguishing a brilliant musical career. (This is what I tell myself to keep my musical fantasy alive.)


While I lay in a hospital bed back in 1973, with tubes coming out of my nose and arms, with one delightful test after another done nearly each day to allow doctors a glimpse into the strangeness of me – I was able to listen to Beethoven – continuously.

Back then, a 9 x 12 inch black and white TV in one’s hospital room that one shared with “whomever”, afforded nothing buy guano. Music was IT for me, as generously supplied to me via cassette tapes from compassionate friends. It kept the suffering goblins at bay…somewhat.


And as I laid in a hospital bed for a few months’ stint during my late teens, I came to wonder about suffering. Not mine so much…but Beethoven’s.

His growing deafness, unrequited love, near blindness  and many other ailments suffered as he came closer to ending of the grand comedy – I wondered how was it possible to produce anything of beauty considering his constant companion of agony.

No answer came to me back then…I was too young to understand suffering.  And now that I’m 62, I really still don’t understand it….knowing only that suffering is the constant companion of many.  How each of us deals with all the suffering we encounter has been a constant question, and even an inspiration to me.

Physical suffering, mental anguish – it visits each of us.  We’re upset, confused – we each suffer in ways that even those closest to us cannot fathom. But as Beethoven, we must keep creating beauty, in our own ways, hopefully understanding that we are here to impart to others the gifts that each of us has.

The individual beauty afforded to each of us is what we came here with. What we leave this grand comedy – what we give to life and to others – is the only hope others have as they look to the suffering’s of fellow earth traveler’s for a glimpse of understanding of what this life is all about.


Tonight’s first musical offering:

The piccolo player looks like a piccolo player – the conductor resembles Beethoven – the spirit of the orchestra matches Beethoven’s joy at the time he composed this little gem – at least in my mind.

Beethoven: “Turkish March” ~ from the “The Ruins of Athen” ~ Carlos Kalmar/RTVE Orchestra


Tonight’s second musical offering:

Beethoven’s most beautiful of creative works (in my opinion) – the 3rd movement to his 9th symphony – composed while suffering from complete deafness:

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 ~ 3rd Movement ~ Barenboim/West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

Photo credit (front page): Ez a mű közkincs abban az országában ahol elkészítették és minden olyan további államban, ahol a szerzői jogi védelmi idő a szerző élete plusz 70 év vagy kevesebb.

Photo credit: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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