Three days ago, one of the happiest moments of my life. My teacher showed me the missing left-hand “G” in Ode to Joy. This music is the first I’ve been able to read completely by myself; it is simple once you play it, but I didn’t know where or what the missing note was. Had Beethoven left it out? Etc. I love Ode to Joy, and so does my teacher. We talked about Beethoven’s African heritage – all black people seem to know about this; which is amusing.
I told her about one of my favorite films which I’d just seen for the 5th time, last week: Immortal Beloved, the story of Beethoven’s life. I told her about how his father’s beating of him when he was a child caused his deafness. She said: And did the film talk about his African heritage? I said: Of course not. We are used to this, so we laughed. But then I wondered: was it partly that he was darker, in white Germany, in those days, that caused his father to abuse him so? To even, perhaps, as implied by the film, assault him sexually? In the film the father’s rage is because Beethoven as a child prodigy did not compare to Mozart, also a child prodigy, whom his father wanted Beethoven to imitate. To become the “trained monkey” many assumed young Mozart to be. I adore Mozart, too. (A character in The Temple of My Familiar shares this adoration). Also just reviewed for maybe the 6th time the amazing film about him, Amadeus. Though I had to stop in the middle because it hurts too much to see him being destroyed by someone he so naively trusts. I love this film because it really helps you see how self-torturing envy is, and how it can completely corrupt and destroy the soul. Also, that genius of any sort is a divine gift and just occurs. At the same time, the soul through which it pours obviously has to be made large enough to accommodate it. This was the puzzle for Salieri, who so coveted Mozart’s gift. How could “God” send such a profound musical gift through such a smutty mouthed, vain, silly boy as Mozart.
But the Divine doesn’t care, as far as I can tell. It’s got a gift it wants delivered and doesn’t pause one moment to wonder who’s driving the delivery truck. On the other hand, the delivery truck always seems to have survived quite a few wrecks.
© 2009 Alice Walker