“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
— Proverbs 25:11
Driving across our traffic-filled town the other day, I found myself radio station-surfing as I so often do. I paused, however, when I heard Beethoven’s classical “Moonlight Sonata,” one of my favorite pieces of music. Now please don’t misunderstand, my usual taste in music can best be described in three words – Elvis, Dylan and ABBA. That being said, however, there are times when I enjoy nothing more than popular classical music such as Pachelbel’s “Canon #3,” Chopin’s “Nocturne in E” and my favorite, Puccini’s “Nessun dorma,” especially when its performed by the world’s most famous Italian operatic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti.
But listening to the beautiful music as I careened my way through traffic, I couldn’t help but recall a sweet story of how Beethoven came to compose his famous sonata in the early 19th century.
One late afternoon, the music master was walking along the streets not far from his home in Bonn, Germany. As he passed a house with a large open window, he couldn’t help hearing one of his compositions being played inside.
Curious, he entered the garden and drew close to the open casement window enabling him to see inside. A young girl was sitting at her grand piano playing his music as beautifully as he had ever heard it.
Captivated by the girl, it wasn’t long before he realized that she was blind. After a time, the great composer stepped toward the open window and asked sweetly, “May I play for you?” Despite her complete surprise, the blind girl allowed him to come in and play.
The famous man’s touch on the keyboard was so beautifully flawless, the young girl excitedly declared, “I can only think that you must be Beethoven himself.”
“Indeed, I am,” he said. As time passed, the genius composer continued playing. As the evening grew darker, Beethoven told the blind girl it was getting late and he needed to go home. But as he rose to go, the girl pleaded for him to stay and play one more piece for her.
By now it was quite dark except for a full moon that was far in the sky. It’s said that to please the girl, Beethoven sat back down at the piano next to the open window that was now bringing forth bright moonlight skating across the piano keys.
“Listen,” Beethoven told the girl, “I will play for you the sound of the moonlight.”
And so it is said that right there and then, he composed the first rippling movement of one of the most famous sonatas in the world.
I must admit I love this story because it’s a superb example of how creative inspiration can come in the most unusual and unexpected ways. While most of us will never possess the creative genius of a Ludwig van Beethoven, we can still find ways to be inspired that can help us be the best that we can be.
Inspiration, it’s been said, can come from any direction and at any time or in any place.