In 1802, with his hearing worsening to the point of deafness, Ludwig Van Beethoven was at a cross roads. The decision could have quite possibly cost Beethoven his life: go deaf and lose the gift of music or go on and beat against the tides of imminent silence. Going deaf must have been like losing his oars in the sea of Beethoven's genius. In 1802 he wrote a famous letter to his brothers announcing his plans to commit suicide - fate was certainly knocking at his gates - as the famous intro to his fifth symphony connotes, but as hard on his luck as he was,he decided to forgo his plans of suicide, and went on to live out some of his most productive years - his middle years - when most of Beethoven's most famous pieces were written. No one ever read that fateful letter until after his death close to 30 years later; and between 1802 and 1815, sans oars, Beethoven's genius was at it's apex. Last night I had the magical experience of witnessing the Polish conductor Marek Janowski conduct Beethoven's largely underrated Symphony No. 4, Piano Concerto No. 3 with the virtuosic Juho Phjohen at the piano, and finally the Leonore Oveture No. 3. All pieces were performed stunningly by the San Francisco Symphony with a vibrant, emotive exuberance rare in most orchestras. Hearing the San Francisco Symphony perform Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3 - which was intended as an opera set in a dungeon of all places - was truly soul awakening. This performance runs for two more nights, tonight Jan. 22 and Sunday Jan. 23 - find tickets here.