New at The Avid Listener: Linda Shaver-Gleason, “Beethoven’s Deafness and the Myth of the Isolated Artist”

I’m a little behind in my blogging, but I want to make sure I draw your attention to our most recent post at The Avid Listener, Linda Shaver-Gleason’s essay about the perennial question: Beethoven was deaf, so how did he compose? In line with her excellent blog, Not Another Music History Cliché, Linda starts with a cliché, something we accept as true but is, in fact, more complicated. (In this era of #AlternativeFacts, we need people like Linda who dig deeper.)

Here’s a teaser:

“Beethoven’s deafness has captivated audiences since knowledge about his condition became public. The composer himself was aware of the irony. In an 1802 letter to his brothers, referred to by historians as the Heiligenstadt Testament, the composer lamented, “Ah, how could I possibly admit such an infirmity in the one sense which should have been more perfect in me than in others, a sense which I once possessed in highest perfection, a perfection such as few surely in my profession enjoy or have enjoyed!” Beethoven’s disability forms a large part of our concept of him as the quintessential Romantic Hero, as it is a tragic flaw he must overcome to produce his great Art.”

You can read the entire essay here. Note also how nicely this essay intersects with a previous essay, “Deaf-Blindness and the Avid Musical Touch of Helen Keller,” by Stefan Sunandan Honisch. We’re working on a line up of new essays to last you throughout the spring, so stay tuned!

The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.

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