As a musicologist, Robin Wallace recorded lives of two musicians in his book “Hearing Beethoven: A Story of Musical Loss and Discovery.” The two musicians suffered from hearing loss: one is Ludwig van Beethoven, which the world marks the 250th birthday of the great composer this year, and the other is Barbara, the author’s wife.
After her survival from brain tumor, Barbara gradually lost her hearing. She first lost hearing in her right ear, and her left ear three years later before she received a cochlear implant surgery, which delivers sounds to the auditory nerves. By miraculously connecting her nerves and brain with past experiences via alien signals, Barbara was able to listen to her husband’s voice and enjoy music again.
Bringing up the author’s private lives was not to cover hearing loss of the great musician. He found rich clues to understand Beethoven’s works and spiritual journey through his own experience.
Beethoven did not lament over his hearing impairment, but what he lamented over was loss of communication with others, the author said. Despite his hearing loss, the German composer found new ways to create music, and started to highlight rhythms and short motives as we can find in the beginning of his famous Symphony No. 5.
Beethoven’s eyes became more important than his ears when creating music. He opened new realms of music, breaking away from the Galant style as his eyes started to lead his work. Robin says Beethoven made new buds sprout in the abyss of his soul.