An exploration of the life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1771-1827). The course will begin with an overview of Beethoven's artistic inheritance from Haydn and Mozart, particularly in regard to symphonies, piano sonatas and concertos, string quartets, music for the stage, and sacred music. The powerful and daring works of Beethoven's middle period, the time of his increasing deafness, proved a challenge to this inheritance, and these compositions dominated the aesthetic concerns of the most important Western composers who followed Beethoven in the nineteenth century. The transcendental, reflective, and even puzzling works that Beethoven created in his last years - while his behavior was becoming more erratic and disturbing - were not fully appreciated by his contemporaries and immediate successors. Indeed, their artistic value and influence were not generally acknowledged until the twentieth century. This course will focus on the musical and biographical considerations that can be used to describe Beethoven as a Viennese Classical, Romantic, and post-Romantic figure, as well as his role in forming the modern concept of the performing artists and composer. No musical background is required. (Not offered 2019-20).
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