‘You can’t have any idea what it’s like always to hear such a giant marching behind you!’


Johannes Brahms German composer

‘I detest Beethoven!’

Igor Stravinsky Russian composer, 1922

At 80, I have found new joy in Beethoven

Igor Stravinsky again, 1962

It will be generally admitted that Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man’

EM Forster English author

‘[In Beethoven’s music] the dreamer will recognise his dreams, the sailor his storms, and the wolf his forests’

Victor Hugo French author

‘Everything will pass and the world will perish but the Ninth will remain’

Mikhail Bakunin Russian revolutionary

‘At a certain place in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, one might feel that he is floating above the earth in a starry dome’

Friedrich Nietzsche German philosopher

Beethoven always sounds to me like the upsetting of a bag of nails, with here and there also a dropped hammer’

John Ruskin English art critic

‘It would be possible to describe absolutely everything scientifically, but it would make no sense. It would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure’

Albert Einstein German physicist

‘If a person sweeps streets for a living, he should sweep them as Beethoven composed music’

Martin Luther King Jr US minister and activist


Read reviews of the latest Beethoven recordings here


Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.