Today would have been Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday; we’re all probably lucky not to see that, but his music lives on forever. I wrote about Beethoven on his 245th birthday, and to this day it’s still a popular article; I find that intriguing.

hero worship

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven was the first musician to realize his power and authority. While other musicians and composers worked for the rich and powerful, mainly lords and such, Beethoven was totally independent. He knew his music was great and that people clamored for it, and he made a lot of money doing it his way. It wasn’t always as honest as we’d like it to have been (he sold the same works to multiple publishers lol), but he set the original standards that got modified over time.

What many people don’t know is that Beethoven, like many of us, had a hero he worshiped. That man was Napoleon Bonaparte. Like a lot of despots, Napoleon had a lot of fans initially, the counter hero who wasn’t scared to take on the establishment. Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony is known as Eroica, but it was initially named Bonaparte; scary, right?

Luckily it didn’t last long. Before the symphony was performed for the public, Beethoven got word that Napoleon had declared himself emperor of France. Beethoven got upset, changed the name of his symphony and time moved on. Even after this egregious bit of behavior, Beethoven continued to honor the man, but Napoleon kept doing things that bothered him.

Eventually, Beethoven totally broke away from his hero after Napoleon defeated Austria. That was too close for comfort and showed that Napoleon was more of a conqueror than he’d ever thought. For more information about Beethoven and Napoleon, check out this link.

In a strange way, I feel like I identify with Beethoven. I wasn’t a fan of Napoleon, but I was a fan of Jesse Jackson. In my eyes he could do no wrong, and he kept “doing no wrong” throughout my life even as I kept hearing things about him that I didn’t like. My final straw was learning he’d had a child out of wedlock while counseling President Bill Clinton on his “relationship” with Monica Lewinsky.

Down went a “heroship” I’d had for almost 30 years. Someone I’d believed was one of the good guys was diminished. I’m not a prude, but this was Jesse Jackson; don’t tell people how to act if you’re not acting the same way.

Of course I’ve had other heroes throughout my life. My dad was one of those; most dads are heroes to their sons. Most of my other heroes were athletes, but I knew enough to respect their accomplishments instead of their acts outside of their sport. Sometimes it’s a hard line for a lot of people to cross; at least the athletes I appreciated never broke any laws (though Muhammad Ali was accused and arrested, the Supreme Court came out on his side; whew!).

I’ve always wanted to do good and have people look up to me for it. I’ve tried to be the best leader possible when I’ve been thrust into the position. The last thing I ever wanted was anyone to worship me or see me as some kind of hero, but as a leader and consultant it’s happened here and there. Luckily I ended it before it got unmanageable; who would want to live up to that standard in today’s world?

Let’s get back to Beethoven. Although he had a hero who disappointed him, he never let that get in the way of his ultimate dreams and goals.

Sometimes we start to feel let down when our heroes fail us, or when we come to terms that they’re not the person we thought they were. I’ve known people who’ve quit what they were doing when they felt let down by someone, even if they were good at what they were doing. I’m of the opinion that the worst thing anyone could ever do is allow someone else to ruin their love for something forever.

It’s great to have people to look up to when they express ideas that make you feel good and motivated. It should always be tempered by remembering that none of us are perfect; we’re all hiding something, even if it’s something minor. What matters is that we keep on persevering, even in the moment when we’re disappointed, and that we keep living our best life and our best dreams and goals.

That’s where I’m leaving this for the time being. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter and hope you’ve stayed on track. Happy birthday Mr. Beethoven; thanks for the joy your music has brought to my life!

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