Beethoven in the Age of Enlightenment



This seminar examines Beethoven’s compositional thought in the artistic climate of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as it was manifest in his major works. Using the legacies of Haydn and Mozart as a point of reference, we analyze a selection of his works for piano, string quartet, voice and orchestra as well as his symphonies to consider issues of genesis and reception. The class explores the evolving relationship between acts of listening and the valuation of symphonic music as an instrumental form, which prized the symphony both as a vehicle of knowledge and for its freedom from the limits of language. Additionally, through biographical materials, contemporaneous accounts, and current scholarship on the cultural life of early nineteenth-century Vienna, we consider the advent and evolution of Beethoven’s image as a mythic Artist-Hero.


John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University

Beethoven and the Age of Enlightenment