Bartlett students win ‘Letters to Beethoven’ contest

Source:; some rights reserved.
Source:; some rights reserved.

Five elementary schools in the Bartlett City Schools system participated in a contest with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra called “Letters to Beethoven.” As part of the contest, students in grades 3-5 from Bartlett Elementary, Bon Lin Elementary, Ellendale Elementary, Oak Elementary and Rivercrest Elementary listened to Beethoven’s music and wrote a letter to the composer.

Memphis Symphony Orchestra musicians and Bartlett City Schools administrators read the letters and chose one winning student from each school:

  • Adalee Walker at Bartlett Elementary
  • Sawyer Stephenson at Bon Lin Elementary
  • Kelsey Mangum at Ellendale Elementary
  • Maddie Boyd at Oak Elementary
  • Aryanna Poston and Rivercrest Elementary

The winning students and their families will receive tickets to the MSO performance of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony on Feb. 24 at the University of Memphis Harris Concert Hall. Students will also be recognized at this event.

Bartlett City Schools is the only school system in the county to participate in this special contest.

The letters

Dear Beethoven,

I believe that you were a great person. You were a pianist. I can relate because I play piano, too. My two older brothers annoy me sometimes. I bet you feel the same way about your two younger brothers. You were born in 1770 in Germany. I was born in 2008 in the United States. I know it must be hard to be deaf. Did that stop you from writing and playing music? Not a chance! You kept on doing what you love. When your mother died, that was really hard for you, but you kept on going. You never got married, but you didn’t get angry. You died on March 27, 1827 at the age of 56. You were such an inspiration!


Sawyer Stephenson
Bon Lin Elementary

Dear Beethoven,

Your music enlightens me. Every single symphony, every single piece of music, they make me feel something different, a different emotion with each song. It is amazing that you were almost deaf with that hearing loss, but you still wrote a beautiful piece of music, Symphony 7, if I’m correct. It is so beautiful. In the middle of the song I see a golden ballroom, with a handsome man in a shining suit, who is waltzing with a beautiful woman in a long, flowing red dress, waltzing with that romantic music everwhere.

But I don’t always see people. With each piece of music comes a different image. Like my favorite piece of your music, Symphony 5. A beautiful piece of magic and emotions fill my heart. The feeling of the music changes every which way. In the first part, it’s loud and angry, so I see RED. The blob moves around and grows bigger with each loud outbirst. Then, as the music dies down to a much HAPPIER tune, the dark red blob moves around and begins to grow lighter and lighter, until it turns into a light shade of pink. So I see many different thing, many diffrent emotions when I hear your beautiful pieces of musical art.

And I’ve heard your music not only in orcestra’s, but movies, too. Like that Peanuts movie. I don’t think you know the peanuts. They’re funny kids. The movie’s called “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!” Snoopy comes around with eggs for the kids. Keep writing that beautiful pieces of art!


Adalee Belle Walker
Bartlett Elementary

Dear Mr. Beethoven,

Hello! My name is Kelsey. I have listened to parts of your music and I like it! I wanted to ask you how you came up with all your music? From the parts I have heard, it sounds very elaborate. I have also been wondering how you were able to imagine it and write it down? Whenever I try to do that I always can’t and have to find the note on the piano. Like you, my father and I both play the piano. I listened to some of your 7th symphony. The first movement made me feel happy. I liked how the tempo changed. In the 3rd movement, I imagined people dancing. The music made me feel happy and exited in the 3rd movement.


Kelsey Mangum
Ellendale Elementary

Dear Beethoven,

First of all, you are an amazing musician! I can believe how amazing your music is, how moving it is, and how much the song takes over. All the elements of the song combine to create a piece so moving that the first time I listened to it, I was dancing to, moving to, and becoming the music. Some of the elements of the song really stood out to me.

First, how you composed the song so one minute of the song could be calm and peaceful, then there become a dramatic accelerando and crescendo! Then the song have a dramatic ritardando and diminuendo. The way the song can be full of energy then calm down to a minimum. How you can hear the difference in pitches all coming together and forming a spectacle right in front of your eyes! Well, ears.

Next, not just the different pitches, but also the different instruments! The winds, the strings, the percussion, the whole orchestra! All the elements coming together to form a symphony unimaginable! All the pitches, instruments, paces, and tempos all coming together to form about 40 minutes of joy, peace, rest, and even more joy all balled up into one song! The different styles of the same notes! It all comes together to form something incredible; something I’d never in my life think of until i heard this.

Lastly, to think, all of this you composed … while deaf? If you could hear any of it, it would be fainter then a pin dropping on soft cotton blankets on memory foam! I couldn’t even compose this with the pretty good hearing I have. I never could have thought up a song so beautiful, so moving, so touching, and so emotional in my entire life time.

I wish I could meet you before you died. Well, if I had met you, I’d be dead right now. But still, I wish I could meet you in person and tell you in person how amazing your song is. If I had the words to describe this song, it would probably take up about 15 pages! This song is so moving, just by listening to the 1st movement I had become the music. My veins, the melody. My heart, the steady tempo. I felt I was breathing in joy, and out anger. I was swirling like a twig in the middle of a tornado. My body, internally and externally, had become the music; the syncopation, the pianissimo and the fortissimo, crescendo and diminuendo, the ritardando and accelerando. I am such in awe as I write to you.

To say again, you are an amazing composer. There is no telling what the world would be like without you and your music.


Maddie Boyd
Oak Elementary

Dear Beethoven,

I listened to some of your pieces in our music class and I thought “this one’s really for me.” I think you did an amazing job on Fur Elise. I think your music is very interesting and peaceful. I know things have been rough, but I think you have accomplished a lot in your life! Beethoven, you have composed a lot of great music and you have inspired me, so thank you.


Aryanna Poston
Rivercrest Elementary