Beethoven's Last Night
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|Beethoven's Last Night|
|Studio album by Trans-Siberian Orchestra|
|Released||April 11, 2000|
|Genre||Symphonic rock, progressive rock, rock opera, Neo-Classical Metal|
|Label||Warner Music Group / Atlantic Records|
|Producer||Paul O'Neill, Robert Kinkel|
|Trans-Siberian Orchestra chronology|
Beethoven's Last Night is a rock opera by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, released in 2000. The album tells the fictional story of Ludwig van Beethoven on the last night of his life, as the devil, Mephistopheles, comes to collect his soul. With the help of Fate and her son Twist, Beethoven unwittingly tricks the devil and is allowed to keep his soul which he had thought lost, but that the devil had no claim on. The album is a rock opera featuring many classical crossover rock songs which are clearly based on melodies from classical music, particularly Beethoven's works. It is the first Trans-Siberian Orchestra album that does not feature Christmas themes. The original cover art was created by Edgar Jerins, and re-issued cover art was created by Greg Hildebrandt.
Just as this work is finished, Fate and her deformed son Twist (as in 'Twist of Fate') arrive in his home, and inform the composer of what he had expected for a long while: that this night was the night of his death.
After this explanation, the devil Mephistopheles arrives to claim Beethoven's soul. He offers the composer a deal; Mephistopheles will allow Beethoven to keep his soul if he may erase the memory of Beethoven's works from all mankind. Beethoven is given one hour to consider, and Mephistopheles leaves the room.
Beethoven turns his anger to Fate at having been dealt a hard life, and now, this decision. In consolation, Fate allows Beethoven to travel back through his life in order to review it and make any changes that he wishes. Beethoven accepts this, and they begin with Beethoven's experiences as a child.
Beethoven comes into his room while the young Beethoven has just been slapped by a tutor for failing to receive appointment to the Imperial Court. Beethoven turns to Fate and informs her that he did not need the hardships that he had faced, with his mother dead and a painful childhood. He requests that she remove the experience from his life. After being told that such a request would remove the inspiration for his sixth symphony, he changes his mind.
Fate and Beethoven then go to one of Beethoven's happier moments, meeting the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the city of Vienna. Fate then reminds Beethoven of his "immortal beloved" Theresa, and after experiencing a fond remembrance, Beethoven explains his reasons for needing to leave her.
The pair venture to when Beethoven first realizes his deafness, and Beethoven explains that Theresa would not love him were she to know. He is then shown Theresa's reaction to his unexplained absence, and he realizes that his deafness is the cause of all his problems. Fate explains that if she cures his deafness, his music will suffer, as the Muses would not be heard as easily through the everyday sound. He thus withdraws his request.
Beethoven is then shown that Theresa would have loved him forever, and he becomes very sorrowful. But Fate then offers visions of the countless musicians of the future who would be influenced by Beethoven's works. As one last, ultimate vision, he is allowed to improvise with the musicians of the past and future who were inspired by him. Realizing that removing the hardships from his life would destroy his music, Beethoven informs Fate that he will not change any part of his life.
At this point, Mephistopheles returns and Beethoven informs the devil that he will not allow his music to be destroyed. Desperate to receive the Tenth Symphony, Mephistopheles makes another deal: if Beethoven will give over only the Tenth Symphony, then Mephistopheles will not take the composer's soul. After an appearance by Mozart's ghost, Beethoven refuses this offer as well. As a final tactic, Mephistopheles points out the window to a young orphan, and describes the tortures that she will receive if Beethoven refuses to hand over his music. Heartbroken, Beethoven agrees to hand over his Tenth Symphony. After Twist's prompting, a contract is drawn up by Fate, stating the following:
It is agreed upon this night, March 26, 1827, between the undersigned, that the music of the Tenth Symphony, composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, first born son of Johann and Maria van Beethoven, of the city of Bonn, shall henceforth be the property of Mephistopheles, Lord of Darkness and first fallen from the grace of God. It is also understood that it is his intention to remove any signs of this music from the memory of man for all eternity. In exchange for the destruction of the aforementioned music it is also agreed that Mephistopheles and all his minions will remove themselves from the life of the child presently sleeping in the gutter directly across from the window of this room. This removal of influence is to be commenced immediately upon signing and to be enforced for all eternity.
Ludwig van Beethoven
The contract is signed by both the parties, after which Mephistopheles thrusts the Tenth Symphony over a lit candle. When it does not burn, the fact is revealed that Beethoven is in fact the second-born son of his parents by the name Ludwig van Beethoven, and thus, the contract does not apply to his music.
After Mephistopheles leaves in a fit of rage, it is revealed that the true destination of Beethoven's soul is actually heaven (as Twist explains, the devil was simply lying to him all along). Fate tells him to rest, and Beethoven's soul leaves his body for the great beyond. However, Twist also hides the manuscript for the 10th symphony.
On March 13, 2012, Beethoven's Last Night: The Complete Narrated Version was released and made available exclusively at Wal-Mart stores and TSO concerts. This two-disc deluxe edition includes all of the music from the original release and, for the first time, the narration featured during live performances of the album. It comes packaged with a booklet filled with illustrations of the story, plus the full lyrics and narration. The narration is performed by Bryan Hicks.
Track listing and musical references
- "Overture" – (Instrumental) Moonlight Sonata, Sonata Pathétique, fourth movement from Symphony No. 9, Symphony No. 5, Mozart's Requiem - 2:58
- "Midnight" - 2:10
- "Fate" - 1:18
- "What Good This Deafness" - 1:46
- "Mephistopheles" – Moonlight Sonata - 3:48
- "What Is Eternal" – Moonlight Sonata, Ode to Joy from Symphony No. 9 - 4:41
- "The Moment" – Symphony No. 6 - 2:47
- "Vienna" - 3:32
- "Mozart/Figaro" – (Instrumental) Le nozze di Figaro Overture (Mozart) - 3:17
- "The Dreams of Candlelight" – Chopin's Op 68 Mazurka No. 3 - 4:05
- "Requiem (The Fifth)" – (Instrumental) Mozart's Requiem, Symphony No. 5 - 2:59
- "I'll Keep Your Secrets" - 4:15
- "The Dark" - 4:27
- "Für Elise" – (Instrumental) Für Elise - 0:45
- "After the Fall" - 4:35
- "A Last Illusion" – Sonata facile (Mozart), Ode to Joy from Symphony No. 9, Flight of the Bumblebee (Rimsky-Korsakov) - 5:34
- "This Is Who You Are" - 3:58
- "Beethoven" – (Instrumental) Scherzo from Symphony No. 9, Sonata Pathétique - 2:56
- "Mephistopheles' Return" – Sonata Pathétique - 4:27
- "Misery" - 2:45
- "Who Is This Child" - 4:33
- "A Final Dream" - 1:54
- Ludwig van Beethoven – The famous composer. Note: In the original release, TSO refer to him as Ludwig von Beethoven. However, the reissue is corrected to van.
- Fate – The spirit of Fate
- Twist – Fate's son (as in "Twist of Fate").
- Mephistopheles – The devil
- Young Beethoven – Beethoven as a young man
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – (Another) famous composer
- Theresa – Beethoven's "immortal beloved" – Possibly either Countess Thérèse von Brunswick or Therese Malfatti
- Young Girl – An orphan of the streets
- The Muses – The spirits of artistic inspiration
- Jody Ashworth – Beethoven
- Patti Russo – Theresa
- Jon Oliva – Mephistopheles
- Guy Lemmonnier – Young Beethoven
- Jamie Torcellini – Twist
- Sylvia Tosun – Fate
- Zak Stevens – The Muses
- Dave Diamond – The Muses
- Doug Thoms – The Muses
- Allmusic - review
- Interview with Edgar Jerins
- After Beethoven's death, love letters from the composer were discovered inside his desk, addressed to his "immortal beloved", the identity of whom still remains a mystery. Both Therese Malfatti, one of Beethoven's students, and Countess Thérèse von Brunswick have been suggested as the mystery woman. "Many have speculated over whom might be the recipient, made more difficult by the fact that there is no year or place given on the letters. But [Maynard] Solomon, following Beethoven's date on the letters, his movement during the period (1812) and studying the persons close to Beethoven, has come to the solution that Antonie Brentano must be the answer, now generally accepted as being correct." 
- summary from album liner notes
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra Homepage
- Official Beethoven's Last Night webpage
- Official Beethoven's Last Night Narrated Edition webpage
- Latin Mentor for Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Dr. Clement Kuehn
- The story of Beethoven's Final Days on the All About Ludwig van Beethoven Page