Approximately one week ago , there was a discussion regarding the influence of music on atheism . Many commented on music they felt was important and meaningful . The vast majority of postings regarded popular music and groups . Apart from myself , however , there were only two very brief mentions regarding a composer , without which , todays' popular music would not have been possible . I'm referring , of course , to Ludwig Van Beethoven. A man who singlehandedly freed music from the bonds of stringent , unbending rules . Who , through the power of sheer , unadulterated brilliance and genius , was able to become the first great composer to eschew a permanent position of employment within the church or aristocracy ( then, the only means of earning a living from his art ) . He became in a sense , the first composer to write what he wished , whenever he wished , and earn an independent living from it . And did he compose ! His music is so brilliantly radical and forward facing , that even by today's standards , it may be considered modern .
Beethoven was also the first great composer who was openly and passionately outspoken in his support of the enlightenment and his unwavering belief in the universality of human rights . Recognizing his vast genius , his views were grudgingly tolerated by the church and aristocracy. This was not , however , reciprocated by Beethoven , who felt and showed contempt to those in positions of inherited power and influence.
He became profoundly deaf later in life , after slowly losing his hearing over a period of about twenty years. His deafness , rather than hindering his ability to create extraordinary music , freed him to reach new heights . Many of his greatest works are from this period . He died at the age of fifty seven , having so thoroughly changed music , that every composer after him would have to find their own way .
When I am asked by theists if I believe in god , I always answer , " No , I believe in Beethoven . He is always with me . "