Beethoven’s music was magnificent – and his clutter was too!

Beethoven’s music was magnificent, but he was not a happy man. This was reflected in the substantial amount of clutter he brought with him to each home he lived in.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Everyone remembers Beethoven for his magnificent compositions, but few people know he was also probably the greatest piano virtuoso of his times. Like Mozart, he was a child prodigy, staging his first public performance in Cologne at the age of eight.

Several eminent piano manufacturers gifted grand pianos to him. But as deafness descended, the pianos were moved from house to house and usually remained unopened and uncared for. They became clutter in his life.

Modern day equivalents

A modern day example of this can be found in many homes. Perhaps not a collection of grand pianos, but many people have items they have moved from place to place more than once, some of which are still in the boxes they were moved in.

An extreme example I describe in my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book was a man who shipped all his clutter from the UK to his new home in Canada. And there it sat in his garden in a huge container, unpacked and unused for 20 years until the time came to move back to the UK. When he announced he would be shipping the entire container back with them, his wife realized their relationship was over. From her perspective, the 20-year sojourn in Canada had more than proved the point that nothing in the container was of any use. From his standpoint, it was with him to stay, whatever the cost. They both returned to the UK, but they lived in separate houses.

A client I worked with had a similar plan, although on a smaller scale. She was intending to move to a new home and take the clutter currently strewn all over her current home with her. Eventually she realized she had it the wrong way around. She saw how much more sense it made to decide before she moved which items she loved, used, and would have room for in her new home. Then she could let the rest go, instead of packing it up and moving it with her, only to clog up her basement, attic, junk room, or garden shed for years to come. She would also have the pleasure of a fresh start in her new home, unfettered by things from the past.

How clutter affects you

The problem with keeping things you don’t use is the stagnant energy that accumulates around them, which in turn wll cause stuckness of one kind or another in your life. Just as everything in your body works better when you’re fit and healthy, so everything in life works better when you surround yourself with free-flowing energy in your home.

If you’re happy with your life as it is, just leave things as they are. But if you would welcome change for the better, clearing out things you no longer use is the first essential step to making room for something new.

And when it comes to moving home, you may also want to spare a thought for how much time and money it will cost to haul all your old stuff with you. Beethoven is thought to have moved 64 times during the 34 years he lived in Vienna, and he must have been able to afford to hire people to help him do so. But can you afford such an expense? And do you want to?

Beethoven’s life

Beethoven composed some of his greatest works during those years but was known to be far from happy himself, and his residential restlessness no doubt reflected this. How much his clutter contributed to this we’ll never know, but my personal guess is that it affected him a lot. In the work I’ve done with rich and famous clients, I’ve often observed that great people who have clutter can achieve great things, but it is usually only the clutter-free among them who achieve personal happiness too.

So what is your equivalent of a Beethoven grand piano? Whether you’re moving, have moved, or have no intention of going anywhere, identifying and letting go of things you no longer need can open the door to new possibilities in your life. It’s well worth a bit of rummaging in the attic, or wherever you happen to have it stashed.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2013, updated 2023

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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