Beethoven: The Relentless Revolutionary

Beethoven: The Relentless Revolutionary

by John Clubbe


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A fascinating and in-depth exploration of how the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and Napoleonshaped Beethoven’s political ideals and inspired his groundbreaking compositions.

Beethoven imbibed Enlightenment and revolutionary ideas in his hometown of Bonn, where they were fervently discussed in cafés and at the university. Moving to Vienna at the age of twenty-one to study with Haydn, he gained renown as a brilliant pianist and innovative composer. In that conservative city, capital of the Hapsburg empire, authorities were ever watchful to curtail and punish overt displays of radical political views. Nevertheless, Beethoven avidly followed the meteoric rise of Napoleon.

As Napoleon had made strides to liberate Europe from aristocratic oppression, so Beethoven desired to liberate humankind through music. He went beyond the musical forms of Haydn and Mozart, notably in the Eroica Symphony and his opera Fidelio, both inspired by the French Revolution and Napoleon.

John Clubbe illuminates Beethoven as a lifelong revolutionary through his compositions, portraits, and writings, and by setting him alongside major cultural figures of the time—among them Schiller, Goethe, Byron, Chateaubriand, and Goya.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393242553
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 07/09/2019
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 140,928
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

John Clubbe, who holds three degrees from Columbia University,taught chiefly at Duke and the University of Kentucky. He has written books on nineteenth-century cultural history and numerous essays, primarily on Byron, Beethoven, and Napoleon. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he now lives, he has given pre-concert lectures for the Santa Fe Pro Musica and the Santa Fe Symphony.

Table of Contents

Overture xi

1 Beethoven in Bonn 1

2 Key Influences: Schiller and Schneider 17

3 Two Cantatas 30

4 The French Revolution 50

5 Brutus and the Egyptian Mysteries 76

6 Hapsburg Vienna 92

7 Beethoven's Vienna 115

8 Beethoven as Traveler and Composer 133

9 The Rise of Napoleon 147

10 Parallel Lives, Beethoven and Napoleon 162

11 The Rise of Beethoven 176

12 The Eroica: Meaning and Dedication 196

13 The Eroica in Its Literary and Artistic Contexts: Seume's Walk to Syracuse and Mahler's Portrait of Beethoven 222

14 Toward Beethoven's 1808 Akademie 247

15 Napoleon in Vienna in 1809; Beethoven Befriends Baron de Tremont 264

16 Composing Egmont 280

17 Bacchus Triumphant: The Seventh Symphony-the Eighth-Wellington's Victory 298

18 Fidelio 318

19 The Congress of Vienna and Its Aftermath 339

20 Beethoven Close Up, 1817-20 364

21 Napoleon's Death, Rossini's Rise 377

22 Beethoven and Grillparzer 389

23 The Missa solemnis and the Ninth Symphony 399

24 Music at the End 418

Acknowledgments 433

Notes 439

Index of Beethoven's Works 473

General Index 479

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