God, do I need this upcoming three day weekend. I need it bad, folks. I don’t like to be one of those people who just lumbers through their week, doing the bare minimum to get by until Friday hits. But let me be clear; that is exactly what I’m doing. Just thought you should know, in case half way through this post I decide to give up and just copy-paste the Doctor Who Wikipedia page in, you won’t be too thrown off by the change.
This week I have another entry in my “Original Gangsta” series, which highlights famous composers throughout history in an attempt to prove that they were way more awesome and/or psychotic than the 10 minutes you spent slapping together a diorama of Mozart’s apartment in 4th grade would have you believe. I plan on doing a lot of lesser known composers in this feature, but I’m phoning it in this week, so screw it. Big guns. Let’s go.
LUDWIG VON BEETHOVEN
Background: Born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany, Beethoven didn’t have the best childhood. And by that, I mean that he basically had Joe Jackson for a dad. He was forced to practice constantly, often locked in a room with his piano, and whenever he was allowed a few minutes away from it, his father required him to be working on music theory or violin practice instead. However, he would later grow into one of the greatest and most famous composers of all time so . . . I guess abusing your kids can make them awesome at stuff? Is that the lesson here? Maybe all this Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother stuff is the real deal.
Most famous work: There are way too many to count. Ode to Joy. His Fifth Symphony. Being a pianist, though, my favorite is Moonlight Sonata, even though it tends to get overused, especially in horror movies and games. Anywhere a director wants something vaguely creepy sounding for the soundtrack, but doesn’t want to have to pay for it. It even showed up in Resident Evil, in one of the most ridiculous moments in video game history. Because when you’re a team of special police exploring a zombie infested mansion in order to uncover a biological weapons conspiracy perpetrated by a worldwide pharmaceutical mega-corporation, you might as well stop to play the piano for a bit, because #%@& it, right?
Seriously, skip to 2:00 in this video below if you want Beethoven to burst from his grave and beat you to death with a rolling pin.
Top Three Reasons Why He’s OG:
#1. He was the original Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
And by that I mean he was filthy, not in the Wu Tang Clan. Beethoven apparently was so hard core into writing music that he didn’t even really bother to take care of himself. His apartment was reported to be incredibly disgusting, with nearly every surface covered with dishes from previous meals (macaroni and cheese was his favorite – look it up!), and unwashed laundry draped over whatever was convenient. His clothes were so torn and riddled with stains that friends took pitty on him and bought him new ones, which he then defiled just as badly. He even kept his chamber pot right underneath his piano bench! This sounds like pretty much the greatest convenience ever devised for the typical busy musician, as I’ve tried to explain to my wife numerous times, but she’s not having any of it. Beethoven’s apartment was basically any hotel room David Lee Roth stayed in for more than an hour.
#2. He composed on the road.
And I don’t mean on a tour bus, I mean literally in the street. Beethoven was prone to taking walks around town when he wanted to add to his latest piece. I do the same thing, except that where I just look like a pompous ass because I’m humming into a recorder in the middle of the park. Beethoven looked insane, as he tended to wave his arms about, nearly striking people in the face, and suddenly blurt out large sections of melody at ridiculous volumes. When he lost his hearing in his later years, he became completely unaware of the crowd of people following him around town as he did this, curious about what Japanese monster he was apparently on his way to do battle with.
As mentioned in #1. above, Beethoven rocked the Seattle grunge look pretty hard. His wardrobe as so gross that one time, when out on one of his composing, he wandered into a secluded village and they threw him in jail, assuming him to be homeless. Only when a music director from a neighboring town recognized him did they let him go (the villagers also bought him a set of new clothes in apology, which, presumably, he later defiled).
So the next time you see a transient wandering down 5th avenue screaming at the trees, ask him if he’d be willing to cut you in at 60% to produce his record deal. You’ll be glad you did!
Unless he’s one of them stabbin’ hobos. Then you run. You run and you don’t look back.
#3. He be all up in the establishment’s grill.
When Beethoven first started out, the only way for a composer to make decent money was to find a patron (usually someone of royalty or the church) who was willing to pay you for your services on a regular basis. Based on this, the fact that Beethoven died with a decent amount of money in the bank is pretty nuts, considering that he was, well, kind of a dick to his patrons. Because his dad drilled him so hard, he didn’t have a lot of time to the finer points of literature and mathematics (as in, he could barely spell and sucked at multiplication), he got into a lot of disputes with his bosses over whether or not they were screwing him out of his full paycheck. During one such argument, he stood outside the castle of Prince Lubkowitz and screamed at passerby about how he was a donkey, which is a reined and mature response to disagreement still used by YouTube commenters across the globe today. On another (incredibly awesome) instance, he smashed a chair over the head of Prince Lichnowsky, and if that doesn’t qualify him for this article, I don’t know what does. So what, you think you hard? You shot Donnie on the corner by 7-11 because he be all runnin’ his mouth and %@$%. You ever rolled on a mother effing prince, son?
I’ll stop now. That’s it for this week!