Music: Beethoven’s Response to a Critic

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven composed a short (15 minutes long) orchestral work called “Wellington’s Victory” or “The Battle of Vitoria” (Op. 91) in 1813. Wellington’s Victory is now often compared to another famous “battle piece”, namely Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”, as both call for the use of a large “percussion battery” including muskets and artillery, and by opposite “sides” of the orchestra playing the national themes of the opposing armies.

Like a lot of Beethoven’s work it has been called a hodgepodge of styles and an “atrocious potboiler”. I of course love it! You can listen to it here (with full muskets and cannons, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the Herbert Von Karajan,) and judge for yourself.

The reason I bring it up is that I happened to discover a response by Beethoven to similar criticism to this piece that he was receiving in his day. Beethoven knew it was just a bit of “popular” music, originally written for a friend’s ‘mechanical orchestra’, a contraption that was able to play many of the military band instruments of the day. But like any proud father he defended it by saying:

“Was ich scheisse ist besser als du je gedacht!”


“What I shit is better than anything you could ever think up!”
Ludwig van Beethoven (German Composer & Pianist 1770-1827)

Burn! He was truly a musical and conversational genius!

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