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Thursday, May 11, 2006

How a failure was known as one of the greatest minds in history



There is this strange little man who loved music. He was way too dramatic (and airheaded) to be a conductor.

Let's talk about just some of the things wrong with him. When the musical score was soft, he'd hide and crouch so low that the members of the orchestra had trouble seeing him. When he wanted the orchestra to get loud, he'd leap into the air and yell at the top of his lungs like a banshee!

He was so uncoordinated that during one piano concerto (during which he played), he knocked the candles off the piano. At another, he knocked over a poor little choirboy.

Worst of all, sometimes he lost count! (Conductors must never lose count.) One time, he leaped high into the air to bring the orchestra in on a loud entrance, however nothing happened. He'd lost count again and didn't "Look before he leaped!" He leaped too soon!

In addition to his dramatic tendencies (which distracted terribly from the music), his lack of coordination, danger to choirboys, and inability to count, he started going deaf.

When this fact became known, the musicians began to ignore him and watch the first violinist. This had poor results and after much trepidation, the musicians finally begged him to go home and give up his conducting career.

So, Ludwig van Beethoven stopped conducting but continued writing music.

Failure at one thing, success at another
I have just described a person who many would call a failure. But Ludwig van Beethoven, although a failure at conducting, was the most successful COMPOSER of all time. The Austrian-born British musician and writer Hans Keller pronounced Beethoven "humanity's greatest mind altogether".

However, Beethoven learned, as we must, that no man (or woman) is good at everything.

We must learn to explore and use our talents. We must do what we're good at and enjoy. We must also know that when we "fail" that it does not mean giving up what we love to do.

"Failure" does not mean anything except that we may have found one thing that we do not do well.

What if Beethoven got angry, stormed out, and quit music altogether? We wouldn't have Beethoven's fifth and a plethora of sonatas, concertos, and his only opera.

Instead, when he went almost totally deaf, he would play the piano with his head laying on the instrument so that some of the intonation could penetrate his dulled sense of hearing.

He did not quit his love of music when he failed at conducting. He did not quit his love of music when he went deaf. He pursued his passion. He learned from his failings.

And he learned that no one is a genuis at everything!

Wise lessons for us all! Wise lessons as we dole out end of the year grades.

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