Ludwig van Narcissus

Dylan Evans, writing in the Guardian, tells us that Beethoven was a "narcissistic hooligan", concerned only about himself when he wrote his music of "morbid self-obsession ", that by the late quartets and the Ninth became "simply a vehicle for a self-indulgent display of bizarre mood swings and personal difficulties". Mr. Evans would have preferred the composer to recognize what his predecessors had, that "musical beauty was based on a mysterious connection between sound and mathematics, and that this provided music with an objective goal, something that transcended the individual composer's idiosyncrasies and aspired to the universal", and eschew the explorations that led to music that embodied an "inward-directed, narcissistic focus on the composer himself and his own tortured soul".

It was simply beyond the pale for Beethoven to believe that as a composer he should have written what he imagined, felt, and heard. Selfish bastard. He should have written for the sensibilities of Dylan Evans.


  1. That Beethoven was able to transcend his personal condition and compose some of the greatest and most universal musical monuments in history is nothing short of a miracle. Criticising the late string quartets?! Good God; is anybody with any semblance of musical awareness that abjectly ignorant? Wait... Don't answer that. He already did.

  2. rob koelzer2:01 PM

    Evans's preposterous article is its own refutation, though I can't help observing that it's a peculiarly British specimen of self-satisfied pseudocriticism -- akin, in its paltry way, to T.S. Eliot's declaration that (surprise!) "Hamlet" is actually a bad play. I am duly chastened to learn, then, that the "Joy" of Beethoven's Ninth is really the "joy of madness, bloodlust, and megalomania," that Beethoven's music "is *simply* [emphasis added...'simply'!!] a vehicle for a self-indulgent display of bizarre mood swings and personal difficulties." Eliot, as a man of genuine culture and critical discernment, can be forgiven his occasional affectations of infallibility. But in his attempt to cut Beethoven down a few pegs, Evans simply reveals his own profound lack of musical culture and understanding.