For there are two Beethovens as Taruskin intimates: the Beethoven who was a great composer, one of the triumvirate of Viennese classicists (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) and an early harbinger of romanticism in the psychological intensity of his music and the Beethoven of influence, the Beethoven whose shadow loomed over nearly every composer for the next hundred years. There is Beethoven and his music, considered directly, and Beethoven as he was received by audiences, performers and especially composers.
The mood of this reception was captured very well by the early music critic E. T. A. Hoffman who wrote:
Beethoven's music opens up to us the realm of the monstrous and the immeasurable. Burning flashes of light shoot through the deep night of this realm, and we become aware of giant shadows that surge back and forth, driving us into narrower and narrower confines until they destroy us--but not the pain of that endless longing in which each joy that has climbed aloft in jubilant song sinks back and is swallowed up, and it is only in this pain, which consumes love, hope and happiness but does not destroy them, which seeks to burst our breasts with a many-voiced consonance of all the passions, that we live on, enchanted beholders of the supernatural!They took their music very seriously indeed in the 19th century! The important elements of this view of Beethoven (and subsequently all romantic artists who succeeded him) are "the lonely artist-hero whose suffering produces works of awe-inspiring greatness that give listeners otherwise unavailable access to an experience that transcends all worldly concerns" as Taruskin puts it. [Oxford History vol. 2, p. 649] There are certainly grounds for seeing Beethoven in this way. His deafness was seen as a transcendental flaw that removed him from the world of ordinary sound and there are many pieces of his that have what you could indeed call an "awe-inspiring greatness". But the real Beethoven has many other sides as well. He had an ever-present, if rough, sense of humor, an intimate tenderness, a fascination with structure, harmonic mastery and so on. He was a whole person. But only certain aspects were focused on in the reception history of his music. Certain works, such as the Symphony No. 9, were the ones that cast the long shadow, the ones that caused so many successors to experience what the literary critic Harold Bloom calls the "anxiety of influence". As soon as a composer took up a genre dominated by Beethoven, such as the symphony, he seemed to find himself struggling to live up to the challenge. Brahms, who felt the influence most keenly, took twenty years to finally complete his first symphony.
Now let's listen to the Symphony No. 9 of Beethoven:
I was able to find a YouTube version of it complete instead of broken up into several parts. But the poster has the wrong opus number, it is op. 125, not op. 129. This was the symphony with its heaven-storming passages and chromatic intensity, not to mention the inclusion of solo voices and chorus in the last movement, this was the symphony that hung over the 19th century like a great cloud. And still hangs today as the last movement has been chosen as the anthem of the European Union. Here, for comparison, is the first movement of Brahm's Symphony No. 1 (often jocularly called "Beethoven's Tenth").