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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Beethoven is a fraud! Who's been really composing those symphonies?

Submitted: August 09, 2014

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 09, 2014



The theatre was crowded. Very crowded. The theatres are always crowded whenever he is performing.

Carl dragged me to yet another one of these performances.  I can’t really blame him. I mean, the guy’s his brother, and it seems to be a big deal to him.

We went in and sat in our seats. They were in the front row. Carl’s idea, not mine.  It was really important for him to support his brother on this important night.

And it was an important night. He would be performing a new piece that I’ve – sorry, he’s been working on for the last few years. “Symphony No. 5”. That’s the title he decided to go with. The one creative thing he could have actually contributed to this symphony. I can’t say that I’m all that surprised. I mean, after symphonies one through four I was kind of expecting it.

The lights went off and the conductor stepped onto the stage. Everyone applauded, I didn’t. Carl wasn’t too pleased. The conductor gave a bow to the audience then turned to the musicians and raised his baton.

The musicians began to play. Three short notes, followed by a long note. Then another three short notes and another long note.

Even though I hated all of my work going to someone else, it was nice to be able to hear it performed.

The music stopped. The symphony ended. There was complete silence for several seconds. Then the audience applauded.

A man sitting near me said, “I can’t believe that Beethoven actually wrote that. How can a deaf man write such amazing music?”

I first met Ludwig van Beethoven 12 years earlier, in 1796. Carl introduced us. Like Beethoven, I was also a musician. I really didn’t want to meet him, but Carl insisted. He said that it would be good for me and maybe I could “learn a thing or two” from him.

We went to his house. When Carl and I arrived at the door, I knocked.

 “Don’t bother,” said Carl.

“Why not?” I asked.

“No point.”

Carl opened the door and we entered. The house was a wreck. There were stacks of paper and garbage all over the floor. We continued through the house, stepping over the piles of trash. There was still no sign of Beethoven anywhere.

“Hello?” I called out. Carl remained silent.

I could here the sound of a piano being played horribly coming from the other room. Like someone was just smashing their hands on the piano. We went in, and there was Beethoven was sitting at the piano. He looked up, saw us, and jumped from his seat. He was startled, having not heard us come in.

“Come. Listen to this,” he said. He sat back down at the piano.

“Hello, I--” Beethoven had already started playing before I could finish.

He played the same smashing noise we heard when we entered. He finished playing, looking pretty pleased with himself. You could tell he really thought he on to something with what he had just played. Like what he had just written and played for us was some sort of masterpiece. He could not have been more wrong.

“So, what did you think?” he asked smugly.

“Brilliant. Your best yet,” said Carl. Beethoven, pleased with the approval he’d just received, went back to playing. Carl pulled me aside.

“What the hell was that?” I asked.

“I probably should have told you this, but… he’s actually deaf…so, he honestly has no idea what he’s even doing.”

“Really? A deaf music composer? That’s unheard of.”

“Not funny, man. He used to be great composer, and he really thinks he can still be.”

“Oh, well that’s too bad then.”

“I need you to talk to him. Tell him that maybe being a composer isn’t best for him. ”

“What? Why me? Why can’t you do it?”

“I can’t. He’s my brother. He’s been having a rough time with being deaf, and I just don’t want to be the one to tell him he can’t do it.”

“Ok, fine. I’ll do it.”

“Thanks, man. I owe you one.” Carl left, leaving Beethoven and I alone.

“Hey, Ludwig… Can we talk for a minute?” I asked.

“Uh... Yeah, just make it quick, I’m kind of busy here,” said Beethoven.

“Listen Ludwig, I know that being a composer is a real big deal for you and everything, but, you know, with the whole deaf thing, maybe it’s best that you try other things. You know? You could be a mailman or…Beethoven?” I looked over at Beethoven. He wasn’t paying attention. Even for a deaf person, he had considerably poor listening skills. “Beethoven! BEETHOVEN!” No reply. I waved my hands to get his attention.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Were you even listening?” I asked.

“Right, right. Of course I was,” he lied.

“Listen, man. I know you it’s really important for you to write music and everything, and with you being deaf it’s even more important... I just really think you can’t do this,” I said.

“What’s that? You think I can do this?”

“No, no. I think you CAN’T do this.”

“You think I can do this?! Ah thanks, man. You have no idea how good it is to hear you say that. Ever since I became deaf, I was starting to doubt myself, you know? I didn’t think I had what it takes. But now, you, a fellow musician, says that I still got it? I’m just really glad to hear that.”

Beethoven went into the other room. There was no way I could convince him now, not after that. I sat down at the piano. I took a look at the music he was writing. “Piano Concerto No. 1.”  The music made sense from a theoretical standpoint, but musically it sounded awful.

So, I started out just editing a few things here and there, and before I knew it, it had become an entirely different piece of music. Beethoven came back into the room.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Oh, I just wanted to see this great musical piece for myself, you know?”

“Oh, alright.” Beethoven sat at the piano and started to play the music I had written. He didn’t seem to notice anything was different, but it’s not like he would’ve been able to hear anything was different. “How did that sound?”

“Sounds great.” Beethoven continued to play. “It’s a shame you’ll never be able to hear it.”

© Copyright 2020 Sam Dow. All rights reserved.

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