Spring, spring, spring – Beethoven’s way

Hello. How are you doing today? In a combined state of bemusement and uncertainty, I suspect. And not a little anxious, too.

It’s not often I can feel confident in making such an observation in a post which I am pleased to see has now reached more than 100 countries.

As someone who has lived with MS for 20 years, and used a wheelchair for the last dozen, I am more than familiar with the new phrase which has recently entered our lexicon, ‘self isolation’. (With typical and stoical humour, an elderly aunt has just called it ‘solitary confinement’.) Having worked in an office environment for much of my career, I cannot hide that it was a rude shock to be robbed of the social interaction which came with this affliction.

But you adapt. And of one thing you can be certain: amidst all the fragility, you are going to experience acts of extraordinary kindness and thoughtfulness. You may equally discover, maybe surprisingly, but with enormous joy, that you can be a driver of these qualities yourself. Over the years I have been the grateful recipient of many, some large, some small. All made a difference.

Whichever side of the equation you are on, these acts will not only give you strength, but they will also ingrain in you an attitude of gratitude, and faith in the general goodness of fellow men and women. The challenge, for that is what it will be, is for this early resolve to be nurtured and maintained.

It has become one of the motivators for these posts. That music crosses borders and is a universal language is not merely accepted, but something of a cliché. And yet, with the aid of technology, it does allow me to share your company for a few minutes wherever you may be. It enables me to communicate with friends and loved ones whom I may not see for a while – and many whom I have never met, nor likely ever will.

Spring officially began two days ago. There is a plethora of music to celebrate this season of blossom, birdsong, and beginnings anew. Once again I am drawn to Beethoven and the pure sweetness of his Violin Sonata No.5, so called The Spring (posthumously), and in particular, the first movement. There is an abundance of recordings available and you would not think it possible to hear such a variety.

One thing, however, became apparent: speed and unity in this piece are what matters most. The movement is marked Allegro – quickly – and anything falling short of that loses the skip and freshness in the music. And what sweet, sweet music! You might think that unity is a given, but the moment one instrument dominates the other, notes are quashed – and they are all worth hearing.

A 1973 recording by Itzhak Perlman on violin and Vladimir Ashkenazy on piano meets the brief. It is something of a dream team, both of them on equal terms with the other. Ashkenazy has recently retired, and his Beethoven playing is amongst the best there is.

A final word. Today in the UK we celebrate Mothering Sunday. Many, if not most, of us will not be able to share the day with them as we would normally. A mother’s love, like music, endures forever. So this post is dedicated to your mother, or you as a mother yourself.

‘Where words end, music begins’, once opined some sage. And so, enough said.

Click on the image for a reminder that spring brings hope of better things to come –















19 thoughts on “Spring, spring, spring – Beethoven’s way”

  1. Spring is out there ,or it was, but then we have always had a cool snap before Easter. Some day I will learn not to put away the heaters too soon.
    My Mother just passed at the age of 96 on March 1st. One of the best things I have gotten from her estate is her Bose radio and tons of CD’s and even tapes for my older radio/tape player. There shall be music for my slowly listening ears.


  2. Hello Nick, Thank you, thank you so much for these delightful posts in these worrisome days. Your words and the sublime music are helping to keep up spirits at this end! God bless.


  3. Stunning! Very much appreciated as I sit at my desk at home try to figure out how best to convert my classroom music lessons into lessons accessible from Microsoft teams! Might just suggest they all read your blog….done! 🙂


  4. Thanks for your words, which I think are always so very wise. And for the music which was uplifting and Spring-like for these depressing times.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Nick, for the words and for the music. I do not know this piece, and bluetoothed it to my speakers for the full effect. It’s lovely. How wonderful is technology!
    Another sage said :- “ After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
    I hope that when we eventually come through this crisis we may appreciate, all the more, the many things we are inclined to take for granted.
    Stay safe.


    1. Delighted that you enjoyed it – the other two movements are equally beautiful, so you should spoil yourself with those too.
      Actually I very nearly put that Huxley quotation in!
      In full agreement with your sentiments!


  6. Thank you, Nick, not only for the music but also for the words of encouragement. You indeed know what you are talking about. And congratulations on your blog reach 100 countries. That’s amazing and lovely to think of so many tuning in. As for the Beethoven, as I was listening to it I was also visualising all the growth in the garden at the moment going on at double neck speed. The partnership of Perlman and Ashkanazy seems made in heaven, and don’t they look so young on that sleeve?

    By the way I wonder whether you receive the current daily Worth Abbey facebook postings? They are also very uplifting and there is talk of them trying to arrange for streaming of their liturgies too.


    1. Thank you for your lovely, very flattering, comments. They do look young, don’t they?!
      I didn’t know about the FB page for Worth, I will certainly look into that and really hope they do the liturgy online. Thank you again!


  7. Funny how I love the sound of expert violinists and yet cringe whenever I hear a kid practicing the same instrument. Of course even these two probably squeaked and twanged in the beginning too.


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