How to Give Meaning to Your Life from the Deaf Composer
He did poorly at school, was suicidal, and was beaten daily by his domineering father.
Despite it all, Ludwig van Beethoven became one of the world's greatest composers - surprisingly writing his best music when he became deaf.
Beethoven believed his music would do more than entertain people - it would enlighten them and give them hope.
Beethoven's belief that his work had great meaning is a cue for us all to add purpose to our lives. These quotes from the master show us how.
“To play without passion is inexcusable!”
To Beethoven, if something was worth doing, then it was worth doing with passion and commitment. The image of his long hair and aggressive piano playing is etched into history. Passion can give meaning because it results in excellence. Don't hold back when it comes to serving others, creating a product or making plans.
“I will seize fate by the throat; it shall certainly never wholly overcome me.”
Beethoven did not believe that our lives are preordained. God gave us the power to choose. Like the composer, we can grab fate by the throat and wrestle it down - turning life into what we make it. Fate is not in charge. You are.
Photo or Painting?
This amazing image of Beethoven appears to be a photograph, but is in fact, a painting by Austrian artist Julius Schmid who was born in 1854, 27 years after Beethoven died. It is believed the eerily realistic painting was done around 1920. Interestingly, photography was in its infancy when Beethoven died.
“Music is ... a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.”
It is not well known, but Ludwig van Beethoven was a terrible letter writer. He couldn't spell if his life depended on it. But he knew how to compose music. It was his love which he viewed as more important than almost anything else. What about the work you do? Why is it important? Who are you helping? How can the world benefit? Once we are able to answer these questions, higher meaning takes hold.
“Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience.”
Having virtue - integrity, worthiness and respect for others - has greater meaning in life than money. Today, the "less is more" movement recognizes this fact. How many TV sets do we really need? In our tech-obsessed world, people crave face time more than ever - conversation, engagement, support. To add meaning to our lives, let's take a break from tech and do what we would have done when Beethoven was alive - talk, listen.
Historians say Ludwig van Beethoven had a huge ego.
He would often stop performing at the piano if the audience chatted between themselves, not giving him their full attention. Were he alive today, Beethoven would have had a tough time with smartphones.
But was it really ego? Or was it passion and commitment that deserved recognition?
Even deafness did not stop Beethoven. He began going deaf in his late 20's. Later, in his 40's and 50's, as he became progressively deafer, he stopped performing in public, choosing to just compose music. But it was some of the best pieces he had ever written - filled with emotion, such as the moving Ninth Symphony.
Ludwig van Beethoven died at age 56 in 1827 from an unknown cause.