Now, don’t get me wrong here, I am not comparing myself artistically to Beethoven, that would be extremely presumptuous of me 😉. But we do have something in common. That is our deafness, how it happened and how we reacted to it.
We both started losing our hearing in our mid-20s and lost it all by our early-40s. Beethoven lost his ability to speak, and fortunately, I still have that capability today. I think, but I can’t verify it, that most people who go deaf after learning how to talk can continue to speak at least at some level after going deaf. Maybe Beethoven thought if he was deaf and mute, people would leave him alone. Or maybe that was just expected in those days?
I have been reading about his life and see other things we share because of our deafness.
For as long as possible he didn’t want to reveal his deafness because he believed, justifiably so, that it would ruin his career. Similarly, it was over three years blogging at RJsCorner before I let anyone know that I was deaf. I thought it would turn potential readers off, and maybe it does, but I think it is actually an enhancement that brings some to here. Anyone who cares to chime in on that, let me know.
“Once his hearing was fully gone by age 45, Beethoven lost his public life with it. Giving up performing and public appearances, he allowed only select friends to visit him, communicating through written conversations in notebooks. His deafness forced him to become a very private, insular person over the course of time.”
Of course, my deafness has also caused me to be an insular person, but not to the degree of Beethoven. My Aspie traits had already caused me to lack friendships, so that was already a done deal.
The question most often asked is how could Beethoven have continued to compose music after he was deaf? How could he compose music without hearing it? I love the answer that music is a language, with rules, and knowing the rules is how music is made. In some ways, his deafness likely caused him to be even more prolific as it limited or life opportunities, so he naturally spent more time in the composition process. Beethoven was a master of the language of music, which is about the creation of sound, not about listening.
When I went deaf, I withdrew into a shell that allowed me to be very proficient at computer programming, app development to you 21st century people. 😎 I hated being in crowds, so writing code was my release. I’m pretty sure I would never have advanced to the level I did in this area if I had not lost my hearing.
Beethoven definitely lived on the margins