Thesis: Freedom Is Not Following Tradition

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Freedom

Today, the concept of freedom is a very important one. On both a personal and collective level, freedom is considered one of the fundamental human rights. It is therefore useful to study how freedom manifested itself in the minds of the world's greatest philosophers and artists. Indeed, it is such philosophers and artists that even today shape the most important ideals of human living. In studying Karl Marx, Martin Luther, and the musicians Mozart and Beethoven, it will be seen that each has his own specific sense of freedom. This freedom is closely connected to the ideal that each philosopher/artist considered most important in his life. Perhaps this can be seen as an important lesson for human beings today; freedom as a concept is not only important in terms of society as a whole, but also in terms of the individual, personal experience.

Karl Marx and Martin Luther respectively found freedom by rebelling against the socially accepted conventions of their philosophies. Karl Marx concerned himself with the liberation of consciousness by ensuring material freedom from the oppression of the State. In a Critique of the German Ideology, for example, Marx gives a lengthy description of human history and the nature of being human. He attempts to reveal the artificiality of social constructs and searches for ways to liberate people from these.

In this, Marx searches for collective human freedom, in that he attempts to find the essence of being human, as well as how thought, action and subsistence can support this type of being. To achieve this, Marx specifically writes against the German convention of being, but also against the conventions of the labor and property system in particular.

Marx's philosophy promotes material freedom, which would also lead to mental freedom. Material freedom is however the most important, as it supports the physical manifestation of the mental. In other words, to best experience mental freedom, a person must also be in fact liberated from physical forms of bondage; whether these be imposed by general social or specific

State conventions.

In essence, Marx argues for individual freedom by equalizing all individuals into a collective sense of subsistence, which culminates in Communism. He believes that, since the material existence is the one that is most immediately experienced, it should also be the first focus of a more equal experience of life, where human beings support each other and themselves on an equal level. Physical freedom is then the ultimate freedom, because all other forms of liberty would follow.

Martin Luther, on the other hand, focuses on Christianity as the vehicle of freedom. Like Marx, he argues against what he sees as a regulated and bondage-based type of worship. In this, the Catholic church and its conventions as viewed by Luther could be seen as comparable to Marx's view of the State's role in oppression. In contrast to Marx, Luther does not see the human being in terms of merely material existence, although this does play an important role in the freedom aspect. Luther's human existence consists of equal parts of the material and the spiritual.

Luther's freedom is in the spirituality exercised by the Christian who is freed from Catholic forms of bondage. For Luther, true Christian freedom means that the soul is liberated from the constraints of outward shows of worship. Instead, the soul should first be liberated by God, and then the body will follow in its devotion. By uniting the soul and body in this way, true Christian freedom can be obtained, as he explains in on the Freedom of a Christian (1520).

Both Luther and Marx address freedom from a platform of the collective human consciousness rather than individually. Although they may have at first experienced their ideal form of freedom at an initially personal level, both philosophers soon translated this to the collective human experience of the phenomenon. Luther addresses the collective of the faithful, while Marx is concerned with the social collective. They have both found satisfaction by implementing their views within a wide collective sense, with many followers and adherents. Freedom from convention also meant freedom in a collective sense, where both philosophers have successfully achieved what they saw as freedom for many.

In contrast, the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig von Beethoven generally experienced their freedom on a very individual level, by means of the act of composition. Indeed, the composers broke the conventions of their musical environments with divergent degrees of success. The collective platform of the freedom they promoted long outlived them, like that of Marx and Luther as well.

During his childhood years, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was thrust into fame at the age of 5, when he composed his first music. Under his father's guidance, he continued to astonish audiences with his skills.

It could be said that Mozart's freedom was orchestrated on both a personal and professional level. Personally, his soul belonged to his music. He continued composing up to the very last moments of his life, with his final requiem prophetically becoming a death march for himself. Regardless of physical and financial hardship, Mozart enjoyed mental freedom during his work. At times he was so obsessed with composing that he neglected his physical needs. This neglect translated to his professional career as well.

Professionally, Mozart was concerned with experimenting with new forms and combining existing ones. This worked well for a while, and his career in Vienna was initially very successful. He was commissioned to write the Abduction from the Seraglio in 1782. This was followed by a number of successful concerts, which culminated in his appointment as court composer for Emperor Joseph II in 1787 (Island of Freedom, 2010).

The composer's greatest musical success was the Marriage of Figaro in 1786, but here already conflict began to arise between Mozart's revolutionary ideas as promoted by the Figaro character and the court's concern with maintaining the social status quo. This however did nothing to deter Mozart's fervour for composing music in his own way. Indeed, it is said that his "restless ambivalence and the complicated emotional content of his music" was far ahead of his time (Island of Freedom, 2010). His contemporaries, and particularly aristocratic audiences, with more of a taste for more superficial forms of rococo music, struggled with the depth and complexity of Mozart's music.

When the novelty wore off, the composer was betrayed in a sense by the rift between his own sense of freedom and the social drive towards convention. In a symbolic sense, one might say that this led to his death. Nevertheless, Mozart never betrayed his own sense of freedom as experienced through music. Indeed, this freedom from convention also translated itself to the social arena, with Mozart being an ardent member of the Freemasons from 1784 until his death.

Like Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven was pushed into music almost since he was a toddler. His father hoped to capitalize on his genius, and literally had the boy practice piano lessons day and night. Interestingly, Beethoven met Mozart when he was 16 years old, while Mozart was at the height of his fame at 31 years old. Mozart is said to have significantly influenced Beethoven's music.

Having been forced as it were into a musical career, one can say that Beethoven found joy and freedom in his music of necessity. Furthermore, he was not a very adept member of the social community, being known for his temper and his negative disposition towards friend and enemy alike. In this, it could be estimated that music was his "only friend" and that he experienced the greatest joy and freedom while composing (Powell, 1995).

In terms of musical style, Beethoven gave voice to his drive for freedom from convention by engaging in improvisation, at which he excelled. He did this to such an extent that both aristocratic and general audiences enjoyed his powerful style. During the 1790s, the composer gave successful performances n Prague, Berlin and Vienna.

More than Mozart, Beethoven's music found an audience in the society of the time, with the French Revolution calling for a more serious and deep style of music. Musicians in general, and Beethoven specifically, turned away from the light entertainment to please the aristocracy and engaged in more sombre styles to cater for the moral purpose of the revolution. Beethoven's early efforts in this regard include the C. sharp piano sonata, composed in 1801 (Powell, 1995).

These compositions were exemplary of the social freedom that was the purpose of the French Revolution. Perhaps the ultimate culmination of this type of freedom in Beethoven's music is the performance of his ninth symphony more than a century and a half later when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Leonard Bernstein gathered musicians from East and West Germany for a symbolic performance of the piece, changing the word "joy" to "freedom" to reflect the occasion. Hence the essence of freedom in Beethoven's music, like that of Mozart, far outlived the composer himself.

On a personal level, Beethoven suffered physical ill… [END OF PREVIEW]

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