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Beethoven's forte was extempore playing, which must have been extraordinary from what is said of its effects; but he was entirely destitute of the coolness and self-possession necessary for the accurate ren­dering of written music, and probably his published works have been played by others with much more effect than he usually gave them himself. It was the same with his conducting of the orchestra, in which even before his deafness, he often confused the players rather than assisted them. One story is told which conveys some idea of his want of presence of mind under such circumstances. He was in the habit, when conducting, of expressing a loud pas­sage by throwing his arms up, or out, at full stretch.
When playing one of his own concertos, during a long passage for the band where the piano was silent, he forgot his position, and fancying he was conduct­ing, threw his arms out at a certain loud chord, and knocked both candles off the piano, and when they were picked up and the passage repeated, by the time the same chord recurred he had forgotten the acci­dent and did the same again. The audience, with all their respect for him, were, naturally enough, con­vulsed with laughter, which so irritated him that at the next solo he broke several strings of the piano. When to this nervous excitability was added his lamentable affliction, deafness, it is no wonder that at last his friends persuaded him to relinquish the task.
D. Johnson.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III