Standard and Idol, Controversies and Ideologies. Beethoven – an Early 20th-Century Romanticized Portrait as Reflected in Vincent d’Indy’s Writings.
Vincent d’Indy’s nationalist convictions were somewhat nuanced. On the one hand, he conducted all-French concerts abroad, and from 1871 he relentlessly helped to found and achieve the objectives of the Société Nationale de Musique Française. On the other hand, the masters after whom the musician modelled his entire pedagogical and compositional creed were not French. He was part of the so-called “bande à Franck”, the group of disciples gathered around César Franck after he took over the organ course at the Paris Conservatory. Franck was born in Liège, German on his mother’s side, and the predominant influences in his compositional style (which his students dutifully adopted) were the music of two of the most prominent representatives of the Austro-German musical landscape: Richard Wagner and Ludwig van Beethoven. In the present study I aim to highlight how Beethoven’s biography has been reinvented in d’Indy’s writings; a symbolic link is created across time, uniting all his musical idols in a great tradition of Catholic faith.
In Austria, sacred music followed the directives of 18th-century Viennese courts boasting such important Kapellmeisters as Johann Joseph Fux, Antonio Caldara, and Johann Georg Reutter. Prior to the composition of Missa solemnis, Beethoven carried out consistent research regarding the sacred musical tradition, therefore he was strongly influenced by works such as Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Mass in B minor. The study aims to highlight Beethoven’s connection with the tradition of rhetorical devices and their role in the composition of Missa solemnis. I believe that today, on its composer’s 250th birth anniversary, it finds its essence in the close tie between music and the religious text by means of the ensemble of the rhetorical devices that Beethoven inherited from the Baroque.
Beethoven’s oeuvre is considered, owing to its composer’s unique style, one of the most important landmarks in the history of music. This paper looks to put together an overview, and to reflect on the importance and influence of a less popular genre in his orchestral output: the overture.
The study is structured into three sections. The first serves as introduction, a brief history of the evolution of the genre, from the opera overture to the concert overture and to the arrival of the tone poem.
The second part proposes a concise presentation of the eleven Beethovenian overtures: those written as incidental music or for a play’s opening, the four he penned for one and the same opera, and the only overture originally designed as an independent concert piece, without the corresponding extra-musical material.
The last section offers some conclusions about these works so characteristic of Beethoven’s style and which represent a link between the spirit of the dramatic work and the symphonic tradition. They prove the composer’s essential contribution to the development of program music, unquestionably influencing all subsequent generations of composers.
In the case of influential persons in the evolution of mankind, their notoriety is built by popular publications meant to highlight a variety of aspects, including biographical ones, sometimes under the sign of an original view on the respective subject. Such a case is Ludwig van Beethoven’s. His altogether special place in the history of music brought about a large number of studies, extensive musicological researches. He was also a permanent source of inspiration for romanticized biographies in which elements of reality blend with authors’ personal views, whose conformity to facts was often questioned.
Approaches of this kind are found in Romanian cultural space too. Throughout the 20th century, in addition to being presented as a “titan” in a number of music history studies and books – more or less obviously marked by the ideologies that dominated Romanian society –, Beethoven appears in an original position: protagonist of literary works by Ury Benador, Romanian writer of Jewish extraction. His view, materialized into two short stories and a novel, proposes an alternative to the musicology-type discourse: staying true to the historical, biographical and psychological truth, Benador wanted to evoke Beethoven as a model of dignity, ethic purity, faith in life.
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