One evening renowned composer Beethoven and a friend were taking a walk. As they were passing through a narrow, dark street, they heard music coming from a little house.
“Hush!” Beethoven said. “It is from one of my most beautiful pieces.”
Suddenly a voice said, “I cannot play anymore – it is so beautiful! How I wish I could hear that piece played by someone who could do justice to it.”
Without a word, Beethoven and his friend entered the house. It was the home of a poor shoemaker. At the piano sat a young girl.
“Pardon me,” said the great composer. “I am a musician. I heard you say you wished to hear someone play the piece you have just been playing. Will you permit to play it for you?”
“Thank you very much,” answered the girl, “but our piano is very old. And we have no music sheets.”
“No music sheets! How did you play, then?” Asked Beethoven.
The young girl turned her face towards the great master.
Looking at her more closely, he saw that she was blind.
“I play from memory,” she said.
“Where did you hear the piece that you were playing just now?”
“I used to hear a lady practicing near our old home. During the summer evenings, her windows were open, and I walked to and fro outside to listen to her,” the girl answered.
Beethoven seated himself at the piano. The blind girl and her brother listened with rapture to the master playing. At last the shoemaker came near and asked, “Who are you?”
Beethoven made no answer. The shoemaker repeated his question, and the master smiled. He began to play the piece that the girl had been trying to play.
The listeners held their breath. When the playing stopped, they cried, “You are the master himself! You are Beethoven!”
He rose to go, but they held him back.
“Play for us once more – only once more,” they pleaded.
He seated himself again at the piano. The brilliant moonlight was shining into the bare little room.
“I will compose a sonata to the moonlight,” he said.
He looked thoughtfully for something at the bright skies lit up by the moon and the twinkling stars. Then his fingers moved over the keys of the old, worn piano. In low, sad, sweet strains, he played his new piece.
Finally, pushing back his chair, and turning towards the door he said, “Farewell to you.”
He paused and looked tenderly at the face of the blind girl.
“Yes, I will come again and give you some lessons. Farewell! I will come again soon!”
Beethoven said to his friend, “Let us hurry that I may write out that sonata while I can still remember it!”
That was how Ludwig van Beethoven’s famous ‘Moonlight Sonata’ was composed.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer and pianist. He remains one of the most admired composers in the history of western music, and his works rank amongst the most performed of the western classical music repertoire.