Monday, November 14, 2016

Character Interview: Ludwig van Beethoven of 'Beethoven in Love; Opus 139'

We’re thrilled to be talking to Ludwig van Beethoven from Howard Jay Smith’s novel, Beethoven in Love; Opus 139.  It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, ‘B.’ May we call you ‘B’ as your friends do? How old are you and what do you do for a living?

Odd you should ask.  I am fifty-six years old and only seconds from my death.  I am a musician and a composer.

Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features?

Those who know anything about my life, will recall that beginning at age 26 or so, I began to lose my hearing.  By the time I was in my mid-forties I was totally and utterly deaf. Nonetheless, when I was 54 I composed what is arguably the most single important piece of Western Classical music ever created, my Ninth Symphony which concludes with the ‘Ode to Joy.’

What would I love the most about you?

My passion for music, my passion for life, my passion for my Immortal Beloved.

What would I hate the most about you?

I do not suffer fools lightly. Go on.

What is in your refrigerator right now?

Though in my novel I experience many things from the future, such as flashlights, hot air balloons and an astonishing magnificent Bosendofer Piano from 1906, I never had the luxury of owning a refrigerator.  Nor could I cook anything beyond my morning pot of coffee.  Every night in Vienna I would head out to a local pub and dine with friends.  Fresh fish was my favorite.

What is the trait you most not like about yourself?

Tell me why I, whose hearing once surpassed all others in sensitivity and degree must suffer such humiliation and torment? To be cast out by our Creator as history’s cruel joke, a deaf musician, a composer unable to know the vibrancy of his own scores.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately? 

Many biographers and now even moviemakers (whatever that is) have described my life.  Those idiots portray me as an angry misanthrope.  How can that be when every night I dine with friends who surround me with their love and affection?   Howard Jay Smith is the first one to even come close to getting me right.  And his son, Zak Smith’s portrait of me, captures my state of mind and persona better than anyone else in the past.

What is your idea of a perfect day?   

Oh for one day of Joy, to be in the embrace of my Immortal Beloved anon while listening to my Ninth Symphony.

Who is are your best friends? 

Steffan von Breuning, his older sister, Leonore von Breuning, and her husband, Franz Wegeler. But a better question to ask are who are all of the many women whom I loved?  And among all of them, which one is my Immortal Beloved?

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

I am not going to die tomorrow, for today, March 26, 1827 at 5:00 pm, is when I will die.  Truly, in a matter of seconds I am going to emerge from this dream like journey to Elysium; my eyes will open, glassy unfocused.  I will look upward – only the gods know what I see, if anything.  I will raise my right hand, a hand that has graced a thousand sonatas and clench my fist for perhaps the last time.  My arm will tremble as if railing against the heavens.  Tears will flood my eyes…   Then, spent, my arm will fall back to the bed, my eyelids will close and I will be gone...  You had to ask?

And if you want to know what is in my head at this very instant, the very last seconds of my existence on this earth, read Howard Jay Smith’s novel, “Beethoven in Love; Opus 139.”  You will not be disappointed.  After all, what is a novel but a collection of lies that strive to tell a greater Truth? And that is just what Smith has done.

About the Author

Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139 is his third book. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony - "The Best Small City Symphony in America" -  and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.




About the Book:

Author: Howard Jay Smith
Publisher: SYQ
Pages: 385
Genre: Literary Fiction/Biographical Fiction

At the moment of his death, Ludwig van Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him a final wish—one day, just a single day of pure joy. But first he must confront the many failings in his life, so the great composer and exceedingly complex man begins an odyssey into the netherworld of his past life led by a spirit guide who certainly seems to be Napoleon, who died six years before. This ghost of the former emperor, whom the historical Beethoven both revered and despised, struggles to compel the composer to confront the ugliness as well as the beauty and accomplishments of his past. 
As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.

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