Home » Archive » Beethoven's Death Mask » Page 9

Beethoven's Death Mask

Page 9

Peter Symons

“You must understand this. He created perfection through his genius.”

And then he paused. Looked at me. Evaluated me.

“You have to be a genius. We have a duty. Do you know what ‘duty’ means?”

I shook my head.

“It means…it means you have to do it. Beethoven did it.”

“He died, didn’t he?”

My father sighed. “Yes…yes he died. But do you understand what he did? He wrote that sonata, the Moonlight Sonata.”


I became a pianist. And I suppose I have to thank my father for that. Of course, I have played the Moonlight Sonata. But I prefer others, Schubert, Tchaikovsky.

While it was my father’s influence which led me to the piano, that was all he gave me. Long before he died, I had rejected his libertarianism and his absurd obsession with individual genius. We didn’t talk much as I grew older and became successful. But I did manage to say goodbye to him before he passed on.

Now, ten years after he died, I understand we must accept the gifts we are given, no matter how small. And so I keep that copy of the Moonlight Sonata on my piano.


This edition