Critiquing the Enlightenment: Beethoven's Music in Early Romanticism.

D'Elia, Peter, Music - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Will, Richard, Department of Music, University of Virginia

This dissertation begins by showing how the common framing of Beethoven’s music in terms of Classicism and Romanticism is bound up with twentieth-century binary politics. It goes on to argue that these categories have a limited historical basis and have also restricted our aesthetic appreciation of much of his music. It then suggests that the more historically-grounded category of Early Romanticism makes some of the often-ignored genres of Beethoven’s output comprehensible and appreciable. The bulk of the dissertation shows the positive potential that this historical lens provides, particularly for appreciating undervalued genres such as his songs and his sacred music. These genres grapple with ideas of alienation, suffering, and difficulty common to many of Beethoven’s literary contemporaries, and these ideas offer new perspectives for analyzing and interpreting even the more well-worn of Beethoven’s music.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Beethoven, Classicism, Romanticism, Enlightenment, lieder, oratorio, sonatas
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