Dear Beethoven, November 10, 2017
My name is Bonnie Blackwell and I am a 20 year old soprano studying music at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You have been the subject of my History of Musical Styles class for the past 2 two weeks, and this past Tuesday we read your Heiligenstadt Testament, while we were reading that I wholly understood everything you felt.
I know what it feels like to not be able to hear the person sitting right next to you; I know how it feels to have someone look at you funny when you’ve asked them to repeat themselves for the fourth time; I know what it feels like to have someone just give up on you because you can’t hear what they are saying. I know your pain, but then again I do not.
You have also been an inspiration to me because I am deaf in my left ear, and If you can do what you did while going completely deaf then certainly being only half deaf couldn’t stop me from being a musician. Something that I didn’t realize about you is that you went deaf during your career. I always thought you were deaf since you were a child, like me.
I do not remember what it was like to hear out of both ears. I did not know that I was missing an entire world of sound. I was completely unaware that when I listened to music I was missing at least half of what I was supposed to. Recently, very recently actually, I received a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA). This is a hearing device that is attached to a little snap that my Dr. attached to my skull. There is a little electronic device that acts as my eardrum and transmits the vibrations to my cochlea and enables me to hear. I don’t know if they knew about the in’s and out’s of the ear during your time, but hopefully you know what I mean.
I can hear now, and I can now imagine how you felt losing the sense that is so essential as a musician. I’m so sorry. Whenever I think about you going through that my heart breaks for you. I wish you were here now because you wouldn’t have had to go through that. You would be able to experience again that joy you spoke of in your testament. And I could give you a hug. That’s what I really want to do.
When I got my BAHA one of the first experiences I had where I noticed a difference in sound was when I was listening to one of my friends play your “Pathetique” Sonata. I knew something was different, but I didn’t know what specifically caused the change. I did notice that I could hear every color, every tone and every harmony that he would gush about. Once I finally realized that my understanding of the music came from my being able to hear it I was ECSTATIC! I was so full of joy and the joy hasn’t left, and I don’t think it ever will.
I’ve always loved your music, and knowing more about you and your life only makes me love it more. Herr Beethoven, I don’t think your music would be your music had you not gone through everything you did. Including the loss of your hearing. Isn’t that just wild to think about? The thing that you thought was your down fall turned out to be the thing that made you, and your music, what you and it, are!
I am a musician, and as I mentioned before I am a soprano. Two things that I have always wanted to sing are the solo in your ninth symphony, as well as the role of “Leonora.” One day I will sing both of these and I will be able to represent you to the listeners because I think we more alike than anyone else you will get the chance to sing your music. Also I will do your music justice because my hearing has affected my singing more than I ever thought it would. My intonation has gotten more accurate as well as just my overall musicianship.
I wish you had gotten the opportunity to experience the gift that I have been given, but you didn’t need it. You still changed the course of music history. You still inspire countless musicians, and you have inspired me profoundly. I just want you to know that you are not alone, and at the very least I understand all of the pain you felt when loosing your hearing. \
Instead of giving you a tangible hug I will give you a musical one every time I sing one of your compositions. I will do everything I can to give a performance that you would be proud of every time I sing your music.
The girl who wants to give you a hug,
The Dorkie Diva
I don't remember exactly when I came up with this, but I think it is so fitting! I really am truly one of the biggest dorks in the world, especially when it comes to Opera and Music and I hope you can see some of that here on my blog! I also hope Then there is the other half which is my diva side, she is only allowed to show herself in my style, and on stage!