I am posting this here because the site owner has not seen fit to entitle a forum "Atheism and the Arts," which I now suggest as a good topic and one that I've wanted to see on this site for some time now. This afternoon, while cleaning out my freezer -- shame on me, lamb roasts dating back to the Civil War -- I accompanied the chore with a favorite CD or two. As I write I am listening to Alfred Brendel's incredibly adept playing of Beethoven's "Bagatelles." The one on Phillips. (Some of the earlier Brendel Beethoven on the Vox label is sub-par; not this one!) Anyway, I got to wondering, with all the strife in the composer's life: a brute of a father, deafness, &c., what were Ludwig von's religious beliefs. I posed the question to Madame Yahoo, who encourages people to answer such queries as best they can. So, minds a little more erudite than mine provided me with an insight.
At the top, and considered by the others as sufficient, was a post by one "A Gay Man":
"Beethoven renounced God at the age of 12 when he became deaf, defied God by obsessively creating his music and believed that 'God lived within the human spirit.'
Towards the end, after catching syphillis from a Viennese prostitute in Paris, Beethoven believed God to be a 'comforting thought to keep man company through the lonely, cosmic night.' I'm not sure what that makes Beethoven. He believed in God, but thought God to be a 'revolutionary.' Beethoven never 'approved' of God - he thought God was a 'nuisance.'"
Naturally, things being what they are, a believer just had to chime in immediately after that posting. Someone calling herself Charlotte d'Allemagne countered:
"u look at the 9th symphony and tell me that was not inspired by something divine....that music has the power to convert someone so powerful it is, it brings u to ur knees and bows ur head, such a heart that wrote this, must have had God in it. maybe his mind cud not reconcile what he knew in his heart about Truth with what Catholicism represented for him. I think if i were him, i too would question it, to me religious dogma is so far away removed from the purity and simplicity of Truth edit: i believe that about elvis too. even to the very end, even if they are not aware of it, the suffering is evidence of something far deeper in their heart that only God could understand."
You have to wonder about someone who makes a comparison between Beethoven and Elvis, but she may be right. Yahoo's administration added a question, do we view Ludwig von as atheist, deist, or theist. What do you think? Personally, I think it is silly to think that just because he set a quasi-religious hymn by Schiller to music does NOT mean Beethoven was NOT an atheist.
The usual xtian commentary. Beethoven's religion was roman catholic, according to Wikipedia, but from what I've read about him I get no impression at all that he ever thought about religion.
Listen to Beethoven's Rage over a Lost Penny. Then decide.