In college, my ambiance of choice while studying was Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. I also had this weird routine that on the way to any final or exam, I would put on my headphones with Moonlight Sonata movement 1, repeating continuously for the duration of my walk.
When I get the the exam room, I would sit quietly in my seat, and listen to the sonata. Sometimes students would try to ask me last minute questions, but I have to gently decline to answer as I am preparing my mind for the exam to come. The teacher walks in and hands out the exams. I look at the cover page, close my eyes, turn off my cd player, and begin the exam.
I have always enjoyed this piece, but after seeing Gary Oldman, as Beethoven, playing this piece in the movie Immortal Beloved, I was hooked. In the movie, the father of his student orders a new piano in order for Beethoven to ‘test’, as he does not believe Beethoven can really play the piano. Since Beethoven does not play for anyone, they tell him no one will be home during his test, but they hide out in a secret passage.
Beethoven enters the room, fumbles and slams the keys creating quite an unpleasant sound. The slowly, he turns his head, and lowers it, placing his ear on the piano. There is quiet, then suddenly the sonata begins. Like a soft pitter patter of the rain, the piece gently rises, yet the ears can barely hear. The soft melody causes you to creep in and listen closer…
Ahh…. such great memories. Tonight, when the tensions of the day are still wrought in my body, I listen to the Moonlight Sonata and go to that ‘peaceful place’ in my mind.
Enjoy Wilhelm Kempff playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, movement 1: