There are a lot of things out there about the routines of famous creative people. Some of them I find pretty boring, mostly I’m shocked at how rigid their routines are, but sometimes you realize that even with years and years of difference between the times they roamed the earth and now, they still got ideas the exact same way the rest of us do.
Beethoven is one of them. Besides his crazy “wake up and count out exactly sixty beans of coffee for his cup of coffee” thing, he still started his morning with coffee in the 1800s, just like most people do today. Furthermore, this description of his obsession with bathing, and the running back and forth to write ideas down that came to him while “showering” himself with pitchers of water and singing, is something I’m sure we all can relate to:
“Washing and bathing were among the most pressing necessities of Beethoven’s life. In this respect he was indeed an Oriental: to his way of thinking Mohammed did not exaggerate a whit in the number of ablutions he prescribed. If he did not dress to go out during the morning working hours, he would stand … at his washstand and pour large pitchers of water over his hands, bellowing up and down the scale or sometimes humming loudly to himself. Then he would stride around his room with rolling or staring eyes, jot something down, then resume his pouring of water and loud singing. These were moments of deep meditation, to which no one could have objected but for two unfortunate consequences.”
Here the account begins to show age. Hopefully no one has servants anymore and showering often might be a sign of a good tenant now a days!
“First of all, the servants would often burst out laughing. This made the master angry and he would sometimes assault them in language that made him cut an even more ridiculous figure. Or, secondly, he would come into conflict with the landlord, for all too often so much water was spilled that it went right through the floor. This was one of the main reasons for Beethoven’s unpopularity as a tenant. The floor of his living room would have had to be covered with asphalt to prevent all that water from seeping through. And the master was totally unaware of the excess of inspiration under his feet!”
– Anton Schindler in the biography Beethoven As I Knew Him
I also find it funny that they attribute the urgency to bathe as an “Oriental” feature. What can I say, us Asians like to be clean! This is from a book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work but was transcribed on a blog with some other people’s routines like Maya Angelou which you can read here: The Blog of Tim Ferriss