DoD: Evelyn Glennie talks about how Beethoven composed being deaf
During Dialogue on Disability Week, we take a look at some musicians and how they were or are able to compose, perform or conduct despite dealing with disabilities. Today, we visit with (thanks to CPR Classical Host Karla Walker) Scottish percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie.
Beethoven was in his mid-30s when he started to lose his hearing, so he had many years of composing under his belt. It’s safe to say he generally knew how the music would sound as he put it down on paper. But Beethoven was notorious for corrections, so the process didn’t necessarily come easily to him.
Still, like all composers, he had an “inner ear” for music. By the time he wrote his Ninth Symphony — the one over an hour-long with full orchestra, chorus, and soloists — he had been profoundly deaf for nearly a decade. Wouldn’t that “internal ear” fade over time? Read the full article, watch the video.
Dame Evelyn Glennie is the first person in history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist, performing worldwide with the greatest orchestras, conductors and artists. Growing up on a farm in the north east of Scotland, Evelyn became drawn to percussion as her hearing declined because she could ‘feel the sound’. At the age of 16 she gained a place at The Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied orchestral percussion and piano. She quickly realised that there was a life for percussion outside the orchestra and became determined to define a new genre of solo percussion.
A leading commissioner of new works, Evelyn has vastly expanded the solo percussion repertoire with more than 200 pieces to her name from many of the world’s most eminent composers. “It’s important that I continue to commission and collaborate with a diverse range of composers whilst recognising the young talent coming through”. Evelyn composes music for film, television, theatre and music library companies and is a double GRAMMY award winner and BAFTA nominee.
‘Listening is the backbone to every aspect of our lives. The challenges we face in business and at home can usually be overcome with better listening skills.’ The film ‘Touch the Sound’ and her enlightening TED speech remain key testimonies to her innovative approach to sound-creation. ‘My career and my life have been about listening in the deepest possible sense. Losing my hearing meant learning how to listen differently, to discover features of sound I hadn’t realized existed. Losing my hearing made me a better listener.’