Beethoven! His Personality Type & Music

The Beethoven Enneagram, drawing by E. Wagele

The Beethoven Enneagram, drawing by E. Wagele

I decided to see if I could hear all 9 Enneagram personalities expressed in Beethoven’s piano sonatas. I enjoyed playing through all 32 of them two or three times and sure enough, all the types were all there. So I put together a talk about Beethoven, including why I had chosen each example, and demonstrating by playing the examples I had found. My friends in the Toastmasters group I was attending helped me arrange a performance at the Berkeley City Club. A few months later, an audio technician and his wife heard the recording from the International Enneagram Conference where I performed it a second time and asked me if I’d make an audiophile recording of it with them. Yes! So we rented the best piano we could find and recorded several sessions of the music, then recorded the speaking parts in their studio. And voila, together we made a recording of the Beethoven Enneagram.

In the recording I explain why I think Beethoven was a 4-Romantic. The following are the words from the recording on type 7, the Adventurer. The titles of the movements I played are listed here. You can hear them all on the recording, The Beethoven Enneagram.

The Seven or “Adventurer”

Some of us spend our lives searching for pleasure and new experiences. The goal of this seventh type is to avoid the darker feelings that fueled Beethoven’s creativity, such as suffering and loneliness.

Beethoven himself had the Seven-ish trait of liking to play pranks on people. Wit, humor, and lightheartedness, the Adventurer’s defenses, appear often in his music.

Here’s a Sonata where Beethoven clowns around. It starts out with a motive that says ‘look at me!’ (demonstrated by excerpts from Op 2 #2, 1st movement) …followed by a whimsical run (demonstrated). After a descending broken chord (demonstrated), it scoots off in another direction, which is typical of an Adventurer (the whole selection from Op 2 #2, 1st movement).

Adventurers like to stay on top and live on the edge. Some love to chase and be chased (demonstrated by an excerpt from the first movement of Beethoven’s Op 31 #1).

The virtue for Adventurers is sobriety. Since we don’t learn how to deal with yearning and accept suffering and disappointment overnight, this sonata, that combines lightness and seriousness, is a good place to start. It begins in a melancholy way with a longing bell-like motive (demonstrated). The mood changes to playful…(demonstrated) and back again. Moods and themes jump all over the keyboard. The virtue of sobriety has more appeal to the Seven when it alternates with playfulness, as this sonata does.

While this sonata is a masterpiece, the goal of real live Adventurers is to be able to sustain sobriety and concentration for more than a few measures at a time. (Op 31 #3, first movement)

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

  • This recording is available from Amazon.com.

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