Beethoven began to lose his hearing when he was in his twenties. Later, he became completely deaf, but that did not hinder him from making compositions, as many people believe.
His sketch-books show that he created his compositions with great care, tirelessly revising his themes and altering the shapes in which they finally appeared. This process often went on for several years before he was satisfied with the details and the overall form of his musical ideas.
For Beethoven, his own satisfaction mattered the most. Before his time, composers wrote works for religious services, to teach and entertain people at social functions. His music, based on his own interests, was independent of social, religious and teaching purposes.
Beethoven is a classic example of the work being a reward in itself. Is recognition by others crucial ? Can one be autonomous in these matters ? The Bhagavad-Geeta says, “One whose happiness is within, who is peaceful and likewise his light is only from within is the perfect person” (5.24).
Let us examine how practical is this premise. Who would know the real worth of any work ? The answer has to be the self, since only we truly know what we have done or what we are doing. No prejudices shall be involved ; it is impossible to fool one’s own self.
As far as other people are concerned, there are several factors that govern whether someone gets recognition or not. One may have to contend with fixed mindsets. Then, others may not be so well-informed. They may not bother, or even refuse, to appreciate out of jealousy.
However, one thing is for sure. A good work would ultimately get recognition, since it cannot be kept under wraps for long. Bu, at times, it may be too late for many. Several works of arts are anonymous.
Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to be self-sufficient in this matter as far as possible, since we need pleasure to exist. One can get instantaneous pleasure from one’s work. And, if one enjoys one’s work, one improves. Trying to impress others distracts and is a big enemy of concentration ; enjoyment helps keep the focus. Then, one would do what one likes. Otherwise, one shall be forced to do what others want. And, ultimately, there is an omnipresent God who is always there to reward. He never fails ; He is always watching.
Times have changed and it is time for instant recognition. Yet, the old adage that work is a reward in itself still holds true. How else can a saintly person meditate on God for long years ; a painter work on an elaborate painting ; and a writer completes a large work ?