Sunday 02 June 2013 was a beautiful day in London. So the three of us took a walking route over the Golden Jubilee Bridge to the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank, soaking up the sun and viewing the activities below on the River Thames. The Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Warren-Green, would be presenting Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 'Emperor' and his Symphony No. 9 'Choral', the latter accompanied by the Philharmonia Chorus.
Whether you believe in Fate or whether you can control your Destiny or whether you can shape the outcome of your Life just depends on the individual. Human beings' capacity to rise above their stations in life is a large continuum. They could perish or they could survive. And some could even thrive.
Ludwig van Beethoven, perhaps more so than many other composers, has remained a heroic and cultural icon in Western music. He and his brothers suffered under an alcoholic and abusive father. By the age of 26, when his music was receiving acclaims, he began to lose his hearing, Naturally, when Fate stabbed him so cruelly, he felt anger and depression. He wrote a private letter to his two brothers whilst recuperating in a small Austrian town Heiligenstadt, but it was hidden and discovered after his death. The letter reflected his despair over his increasing deafness and his desire to overcome his physical and emotional ailments to complete his artistic destiny. So Beethoven had decided "to take Fate by the throat; it shall not wholly overcome me."
Each time I listen to the Ninth Symphony, I cannot but help remembering that Beethoven was totally deaf by age 45, twelve years before his death and it was during this period that he wrote his greatest music including this symphony, his final piano sonatas, six string quartets, and Missa Solemnis.
The great musical genius had accepted his Fate, but he had steadfastly refused to allow it to determine his Destiny. Wihthout the will to drive us foreward to our goals, genius is of little use. So, how do we measure in our own Life?