Beethoven and the Construction of Genius: Musical Politics by Tia DeNora

By Tia DeNora

During this provocative account Tia DeNora reconceptualizes the idea of genius through putting the lifestyles and profession of Ludwig van Beethoven in its social context. She explores the altering musical international of overdue eighteenth-century Vienna and follows the actions of the small circle of aristocratic buyers who lead the way for the composer's success.DeNora reconstructs the advance of Beethoven's attractiveness as she recreates Vienna's strong musical scene via modern debts, letters, magazines, and myths--a colourful photo of fixing occasions. She explores the methods Beethoven was once obvious by way of his contemporaries and the picture crafted via his supporters. evaluating Beethoven to modern competitors now principally forgotten, DeNora finds a determine musically leading edge and intricate, in addition to a prepared self-promoter who adroitly controlled his personal celebrity.DeNora contends that the popularity Beethoven obtained used to be as a lot a social fulfillment because it was once the results of his own presents. In considering the political and social implications of tradition, DeNora casts many elements of Beethoven's biography in a brand new and various gentle, enriching our realizing of his good fortune as a performer and composer.

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Additional info for Beethoven and the Construction of Genius: Musical Politics in Vienna, 1792-1803

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When he attends a concert our semi-connoisseurs never take their eyes off him, seeking to read in his features, not always intelligible to every one what ought to be their opinion of the music. Every year he gives a few large and brilliant concerts at which only music by the old masters is performed. His preference is for the Handelian manner and he generally has some of Handel's great choruses performed. (trans. Thayer and Forbes 1967, 1:157) The oratorios to which Schönfeld referred were produced by what was probably Vienna's earliest concert organization, the Gesellschaft der Associierten Cavaliere (GAC), or associated knights, which van Swieten founded in 1786 and for which he acted as director.

In the Sturm und Drang perspective, genius became "a slogan for complete rejection of discipline and tradition and was linked with creative spontaneity" (Wellek 1955, 1:176). The modern notion of creative genius appears to have been first articulated in works of Shakespeare, which were viewed less as theatrical works than as poetry and psychological portraiture (Wellek 1955; Murray 1989). It was also in northern Germany during the eighteenth century that the organicist metaphor was initially applied to creative works.

Thirty-two of the eighty-odd performances of Beethoven's music occurred in 1808 (see Table 3). 14 Moreover, while performances of Haydn and Mozart were more evenly distributed across the twenty-year period, public performances of Beethoven increased after 1800 and were boosted still more in 1808. It is worth inquiring into the circumstances under which the increasing presence of Beethoven in the public concert repertory occurred, and for this it is necessary to examine the distribution of composers' performances according to concert location and, therefore, according to social group.

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