By Maria Popova

To be an artist requires a special kind of focus, one that draws upon both mental and physical stamina. For some the creative force is all consuming and in Beethoven’s case led him to a tortured genius. His life was influenced by an obsessive drive to create and perfect, and with every milestone – from new love to the accident that some claim set off a years-long struggle with deafness – his artistic output was changed.

“He would go on to cultivate a lifestyle regimen that sustains this superhuman vitality,” says Maria Popova, “to embody the crucial difference between genius and talent, and to believe that music saved his life.”

What drives you to do your best work?

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