And the goblins--they had not really been there at all? They were only the phantoms of cowardice and unbelief? One healthy human impulse would dispel them? Men like the Wilcoxes, or ex-President Roosevelt, would say yes. Beethoven knew better. The goblins really had been there. They might return--and they did. It was as if the splendour of life might boil over and waste to steam and froth. In its dissolution one heard the terrible, ominous note, and a goblin, with increased malignity, walked quietly over the universe from end to end. Panic and emptiness! Panic and emptiness! Even the flaming ramparts of the world might fall. Beethoven chose to make all right in the end. He built the ramparts up. He blew with his mouth for the second time, and again the goblins were scattered. He brought back the gusts of splendour, the heroism, the youth, the magnificence of life and of death, and, amid vast roarings of a superhuman joy, he led his Fifth Symphony to its conclusion. But the goblins were there. They could return. He had said so bravely, and that is why one can trust Beethoven when he says other things.
Good morning on the 7th of July.while still in bed my thoughts turn towards you my Immortal Beloved, now and then happy, then sad again, waiting whether Fate might answer us. – I can only live either wholly with you or not at all, yes, I have resolved to stray about far away until I can fly into your arms, and feel at home with you, and send my soul embraced by you into the realm of the Spirits. – Yes, unfortunately it must be. – You will compose yourself, all the more since you know my faithfulness to you, never can another own my heart, never – never. – Oh God why do I have to separate from someone whom I love so much, and yet my life in V[ienna] as it is now is a miserable life. – Your love makes me at once most happy and most unhappy. – At my age, I would now need some conformity regularity in my life – can this exist in our relationship? – Angel, I just learned that the post goes every day – and I must therefore conclude so that you get the l[etter] straightway – be patient, only through quiet contemplation of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together – be calm – love me – today – yesterday. – What yearning with tears for you – you – you – my life – my everything – farewell – oh continue to love me – never misjudge the most faithful heart of your BelovedL.Forever thineforever mineforever us.
Three miles from my adopted city lies a village where I came to peace.The world there was a calm place, even the great Danube no more than a pale ribbon tossed onto the landscapeby a girl’s careless hand. Into this stillness I had been ordered to recover. The hills were gold with late summer;my rooms were two, plus a small kitchen, situated upstairs in the back of a cottage at the end of the Herrengasse. From my window I could see onto the courtyard where a linden tree twined skyward — leafy umbilicus canted toward light, warped in the very act of yearning —and I would feed on the sun as if that alone would dismantle the silence around me.At first I raged. Then music raged in me, rising so swiftly I could not write quickly enough to ease the roiling. I would stop to light a lamp, and whatever I’d missed — larks flying to nest, church bells, the shepherd’s home-toward-evening song — rushed in, and Iwould rage again. I am by nature a conflagration; I would rather leap than sit and be looked at.So when my proud city spread her gypsy skirts, I reentered, burning towards her greater, constant light.Call me rough, ill-tempered, slovenly— I tell you, every tenderness I have ever known has been nothing but thwarted violence, an ache so permanent and deep, the lightest touch awakens it. . . . It is impossible to care enough. I have returned with a second Symphony and 15 Piano Variationswhich I’ve named Prometheus,after the rogue Titan, the half-a-god who knew the worst sin is to take what cannot be given back.I smile and bow, and the world is loud. And though I dare not lean in to shout Can’t you see that I’m deaf? —I also cannot stop listening.
… the conjunction of Beethoven’s last symphonic masterpiece with crucial works or events in the lives of so many other outstanding artists made 1824 a particularly fertile year…. The fact that the Ninth Symphony, Byron’s death, Pushkin’s Boris Gudunov and “To the Sea,” Delacroix’s Massacres at Chios, Stendhal’s Racine and Shakespeare, and Heine’s Harz Journey and North Sea Pictures all futhered, in one way or another, Romanticism’s rear-guard action against repression underlines the significance of that speck of time. And perhaps these brief glances at those artists and their states of being at that moment will have helped to remind readers—as they reminded this author—that spiritual and intellectual liberation requires endless internal warfare against everything in ourselves that narrows us down instead of opening us up and that replaces questing with certitude. Nearly two centuries later, the world still overflows with people who believe that truth not only exists but that it is simple and straightforward, and that their truths—be they political, religious, philosophical, moral, or social—constitute The Truth. Federico Fellini’s characterization, a generation ago, of the fascist mentality as “a refusal to deepen one’s individual relationship to life, out of laziness, prejudice, unwillingness to inconvenience oneself, and presumptuousness” describes the obedient adherents of most prefabricated beliefs, everywhere and at all times. The others—the disobedient, the nonadherents, those who think that the world is not easily explained and that human experience does not fit into tidy little compartments—are still fighting the eternally unwinnable War of Liberation. Until our sorry species bombs or gluts itself into oblivion, the skirmishing will continue, and what Beethoven and company keep telling us, from the ever-receding yet ever-present past, is that the struggle must continue (pp. 110-11).