Orchestra Allows Deaf People to ‘Hear’ Beethoven Through Touch – Much Like the Maestro Did

Orchestra Allows Deaf People to ‘Hear’ Beethoven Through Touch – Much Like the Maestro Did
orchestra in action
This was the first in a series of spring performances being planned by the orchestra’s conductor for people with hearing impairments

Zsuzsanna Foldi of Hungary was declared deaf at eight-months-old due to a meningitis infection. Now at age 67, with her hands placed gently on a musician’s double bass while sitting among the performers of the Danubia Symphony Orchestra in Budapest, she’s been able to enjoy Beethoven’s famous 5th Symphony in a way quite similar to the very man who composed it.

“When I sat next to the musician who played the bass today, I started crying,” she told Reuters.

“My father also had a double bass… and I did not have a hearing aid. I always put my ear on the bass and he played to me,” she added.

This was the first in a series of spring performances being planned by the orchestra’s conductor for people with hearing impairments, bringing music to those who might not otherwise have no access to it.

The performers are positioned in a way that allows the audience members with the most severe hearing impairments sit among them, either placing their hands on the instruments to feel the vibrations, or holding a red balloon, which gathers vibrations from multiple instruments conveying them through the fingertips.

Conductor Mate Hamori said the idea was to connect the maestro’s music with those who were most capable of sympathizing with Beethoven—who famously composed his iconic 9th symphony when he was totally deaf in later years.

Beethoven’s hearing became gradually more and more impaired over his life, and from 1804 to 1808 when he wrote the fifth symphony, it was already very difficult for him to hear. As it became worse and worse, he started composing music on his piano so he could feel the vibrations through the keys.

One of the audience members with their own hearing problems remarked about the stringed instruments producing a very tactile vibration, so it was “not a coincidence that he wrote this kind of music.”

(WATCH the video below)

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