Beethoven: Ode to an endearing pain in the a**

Some people run to the latest pop song, others to the Rocky soundtrack.  I run to the sound of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A major, the 2nd movement.

Ludwig van Beethoven.  I feel he is not as easy to love as Chopin and Mozart but infinitely more interesting and the complexity of his personality excites my imagination.

He is, extraordinarily enough by itself, the brilliant musician and composer who was almost completely deaf by the end of his life, composing his best symphonies with his ear glued to his piano, unable to hear his own work.  He was so deaf, in fact, that, at the premiere of his 9th Symphony, he could not hear the performance of his orchestra and had to turn around to discover the thunderous applause of his audience.

Depicted by his friends and family as brusque, moody and arrogant, one can easily imagine this musical genius avoiding social situations as much as possible to hide what he considered to be an embarrassing handicap, humming to himself on his daily walks, as he was, barely noticing the rain or the thunder when it came, his hair a mess, his arms flying to the measure of the music in his head.

There is something very noble to his stubborn perfectionism when, as the story goes, he would insist on making a whole orchestra start all over again if he noticed a single false note during a performance.

This sure sign of a passionate being finds an echo in the pressing and tender love he expressed in his letters to his “Immortal Beloved” as he would call “the only woman he has ever loved”, unimpressed by the heartbreaking reality that his social rank didn’t allow him to hope for more than a secret affair with her.

“Long – Long – may our love last – it is so noble – so much founded on mutual respect and friendship – even great similarity in so many things, in thoughts and feelings – oh let me hope that your heart – will continue to beat for me for a long time – mine can only – stop – to beat for you – if – it does not beat any more” 

Despite all his darkness and melancholy, his compositions are very often filled with optimism and energy (“Ode to Joy”) and it is said that his brutal and eccentric personality didn’t interfere with his good sense of humor.  His friend Carl Czerny declared that Beethoven “was always merry, mischievous, full of witticisms and jokes”.  Fellow composer Karl Webber found Beethoven to be “full of kind-heartedness and warmth”.

The man’s dramatic levels of intense darkness and light inspired me to emulate his only known official painted portrait, through photography, for an assignment, back in college.  I used my own father as my model for this picture and, exceptionally, I will include it in this post in lieu of my usual SL self-portrait because it still cracks me up (poor dad looked like a psychopath walking in the park squeezed in my little coat, a wig I personally styled and a flaming red scarf…  He must love me something serious to have agreed to this!).

Hopefully this week brings you many of your own little odes to joy. 🙂

Aramis xx

Kiva.org : Come together (right now)

A friend of mine introduced me to Kiva years ago.  Since then, I’ve been an active member and try to spread the word about this wonderful organization as much as I can, so I had to make a post about it.

What is Kiva? It is an international non profit organization that gives people the opportunity to give other people opportunities.  That’s in my own words.

In THEIR own words, Kiva is “a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty”.  That’s right.  Lending.  It’s not “charity” per se, because you’re going to get your money back eventually.

Here’s how it works:

A borrower (or a group of borrowers sharing a common vision) from anywhere in the world (mostly from countries that are not very wealthy) comes up with a project.  It could be anything from establishing a new business or growing one that is already in place, paying for their children’s education, getting clean water for their village, building shelters, etc…  For that, they need money and that’s where you, the lender, come forward, pick a project you are drawn to, and basically finance it with other Kiva lenders.

Everyone pitches in 25$, boom!, the project gets financed, you forget about it and go about your merry life and a few months later (depending on the borrower’s refunding plan), you get your money back and you get to do it aaaall over again with that very same initial investment of 25$.

Over and over and over again..

On top of this, every single penny you give goes towards a loan for someone who asked for one, and the borrowers do not have to pay fees or interest on the money they borrow.  Kiva covers its expenses with voluntary donations, fondations and other supporters.

Also, at any given time, you can decide to retrieve your money from Kiva and have it refunded to you or give it as a donation to Kiva to use where it’s needed.

To me, the fact that such a small and simple gesture helps the world become a better place, and potentially changes lives for the better, gives opportunity to women in countries where they have none, empowers young people, fights poverty , makes dreams come true and brings people around the world together is a miracle and something everybody should know about.

So there.  Now you know.

www.kiva.org

 

Aramis xx

 

Love is in the water,
Love is in the air.
Show me where to look,
Tell me will love be there?
Will love be there?

Teach me how to speak,
Teach me how to share.
Teach me where to go,
Tell me will love be there?
Love be there?

Shine by Collective Soul