It can be hard to imagine, but there was a time when Beethoven’s music was unknown, or the newest, most daring thing one could imagine. And that time was 1812. His take on the sonata form was so different, so explosive when compared to what else was available, that we can hardly imagine the shock it must have occasionally caused.
And yet, through hearing his music, listening closely, we can get as close as a whisper of breath to what they heard and knew 200 years ago. Listening like that allows us to be in the room with them, and to engage with their mindset in an intimate way, to feel what must have been in their hearts.
So when writing of these characters, and of these historical times, I spend most of my hours locked in the mental chamber which this music creates. Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Field, these were their expressions of life, passion and beauty, so to write as they thought in 1812, these have become my close friends and companions.
Obviously, it helps that I have always played the piano and that Beethoven writes music in a way I understand and find easy to play…but there it is, their gateway to beauty, our gateway to understanding them. As easy as that.