A long list of European countries have issued in 2020 stamps and souvenir sheets commemorating the 250th Anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven.  

The place occupied by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) in the universal history of music is, in many aspects, completely unique. In him, the legacies of all the Baroque and Classical masters converge; with him, in an explosion of creativity, we see the emergence of the essence of musical Romanticism; and from him come many of the great lines that have inspired musical creation until today. Deeply committed to his time, in particular to the cause of the new ideas of liberty promoted by Enlightenment thinking and by the French Revolution, his role was decisive in projecting  artistic dignity, artists’ need for creative independence and their ability to express the conscience, the desires and dreams of the community to which they belong.

His personal story was, in itself, one of a constant quest for freedom – against the curse of a progressive deafness that did not manage to limit his creative passion, against the on going instability of his circumstances of material survival, against any concessions to easy aesthetic solutions, whether in accordance with the preferences of sponsors or simply the dominant taste of the market, that might compromise the authenticity of his creative gesture. And his journey was always marked by the ruthless demands he made of himself, by the need for discovery, by the overcoming of each new challenge he set himself, by the continual reinvention of his writing following every stage reached on this path.

With this profound authenticity and originality it seems obvious that – in an apparent contradiction – his music was able to overcome the barriers of his specific individual, historic ,geographic and cultural circumstances and to question like none other audiences of all periods, all generations, all classes, all cultures, like a glowing message of conscience in the very best of the human condition, in his essential eagerness for dignity and freedom and in his intrinsic need for the pursuit of beauty, justice and truth.

Jan 25th 2021 Alex

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