In the early 19th century the rules began to lose their luster. Artists, composers and other creative people began to bend them and as time went on, completely break them. By the late 1800s, the Romantic Era was in full bloom. For Beethoven it came a little earlier. He died in 1827, but by 1801 he had written the Sonata in C# Minor—known to most as the Moonlight Sonata—as far removed from pure sonata-allegro form as one got in those days. Some people didn't know whether to applaud or not.
But breaking the rules of an artistic movement did not mean he no longer respected that previous era. It didn't mean he didn't know the rules. As one of my astute nieces pointed out to me—you have to know them to break them.
Beethoven had his first lesson with Franz Josef Haydn on December 12, 1792. Haydn had been making an excellent living writing music, usually on demand, in the Classical forms. The number of compositions he wrote is staggering: 108 symphonies, 68 string quartets, 32 divertimenti, 126 trios for baryton, viola, and cello, 29 trios for piano, violin, and cello, 21 trios for 2 violins and viola, 47 piano sonatas, 20 operas, 14 masses, 6 oratorios, and 2 celli concerti. How can anyone say this man was not a successful and talented musician just because he followed the rules? His piano sonatas are, in fact, some of my favorite to play. They are often just plain fun.
Beethoven, even though his heart eventually followed closer to Romantic ideals of art and music, still respected his teacher. He asked his opinion on his works, especially his late trios. Haydn's opinion mattered to him, even though, irascible as he was, he didn't take well to any criticism. Even after a less than enthusiastic review for one set, Beethoven still dedicated his next set of piano sonatas to his old mentor. He considered Haydn an equal to Mozart and Bach, and attended his funeral in 1809.
Contrast that to artists, writers, and musicians today who look down on anyone who thinks that principles of proportion and contrast, grammar and punctuation, or harmony and melody will stunt their creativity. Mozart, who followed the rules of the Classical Era religiously, still wrote some of the most creative, beautiful, and intellectually stimulating music ever composed. A Mozart Andante will take your breath away. His Rondos will leave you chuckling. If you think that principles stunt your artistic creativity, maybe you don't have as much of it as you think you do.
As in the arts, people try to get creative with their religious observances. Rules don't matter; authority doesn't matter; patterns don't matter; all that matters to God is me pouring out my heart in whatever way suits me best.
That statement has one immediate problem that ought to be obvious to anyone: "whatever suits me." I thought we were talking about worshipping God. Sounds more like we are talking about God worshipping me.
"There are no rules," someone else wants to say. I can find in at least five places in the New Testament words similar to "as we teach in every church." Evidently there were some things they were expected to do in the same manner everywhere, even as far back as the first century.
I can find the Greek word often translated "pattern" 15 times in the New Testament, referring to everything from the pattern of baptism to the pattern of living a godly life. If one is binding so are the others. Even the Pharisees recognized the need for religious authority (Matt 20) and Jesus used that recognition to prove yet more about his authority. And finally, right before his ascension he reminded his disciples who has the authority to tell them where to go and what to teach and how to live. Deny it at your own risk.
If you think rules stifle your service to God, you have a hard lesson coming someday. Anyone can joyfully do what he wants to do. Only a loyal servant can do what the Master wants him to do with the same passion, the passion He deserves.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of [by the authority of] the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col 3:17)