Blogs > HNN > Beethoven: Genius, Anti-Pythagorean, Narcissistic Hooligan

Jun 10, 2005 11:26 am

Beethoven: Genius, Anti-Pythagorean, Narcissistic Hooligan

There is an amusing piece of legendry, notorious among Randian Objectivists, according to which Ayn Rand once anathematized the music of Beethoven because of its"dark and malevolent" character. Now comes a piece in the London Guardian by one Dylan Evans of the University of the West of England , making a neo-Pythagorean argument to the same conclusion.

To test Evans's hypothesis, I suggest that you listen to Beethoven's Pastorale Symphony . If you listen closely enough--and attend to the background cleverly obscured by the music--you may well hear the"dark and menacing" sounds of sheep and other pastoral creatures gnashing their teeth and plotting mayhem and murder. If you don't hear it the first time, play the CD backwards. Trust me, it's there.

I don't have time right now to dispute Evans's" claims" (insofar as they amount to anything), but rest assured I will when I get the chance. In my universe, no one messes with Beethoven and lives to tell the tale.

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Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

In a way, I think you are being far too kind to him. But you'll see what I mean when I get a chance to eviscerate that article, as I intend to.

Stephan (K-dog) Kinsella - 7/14/2005

Van Halen was rational. Heh heh.

Stephan (K-dog) Kinsella - 7/14/2005

The Cult is dark, but really cool. What you think, Irfan?

Stephan (K-dog) Kinsella - 7/14/2005

Or Rush, my favorite group. Hello? Is poor Irfan so ignored? Poor Irfan.

I like Dio too. And Riot (not Quiet Riot, but Riot, of Narita fame). And Saxon. And Triumph, Judas Priest.

Hellooooo? Poor Irfan should not be ignored, gumby dammit.

Oscar Chamberlain - 6/10/2005

There is, of course, a darkness to some of Beethoven. As a child I once felt lost in the first movement of the Eroica. And Evans writes about the music he loves with passion. That's worth something.

But to reduce Beethoven to a twisted genius? Well, I'll just say that Evans has never listed to the late piano sonatas or, except for the grosse fugue, to his string quartets either.

And if he has and cannot hear that Beethoven "aspired to the universal," then I think I may pity him.