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Ludwig van Beethoven


Maximilian was generally progressive, modernizing the educational and financial ... They were members of the Order of the Illuminati, and anticlerical group. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Periods of His Life
  • and Contextual Politics
  • (Various sources, but especially
  • Beethoven in German Politics,
  • 1870-1989
  • by David B. Dennis)

Period 1 1770-1792
  • Beethoven was born in 1770.
  • He lived in Bonn until 1792.
  • He lived in an area ruled by Maximilian Franz
    from 1784 to 1801, a nice despot.
  • Maximilian was generally progressive, modernizing
    the educational and financial systems of the day.

Period 1 1770-1792 (cont.)
  • The early influence of a benign absolute ruler
    influenced Beethoven throughout his life.
  • During this period, Beethoven was also exposed to
    the ideas of the philosophers of his day, such as
    Kant, Rousseau, and Voltaire.

Period 1 1770-1792 (cont.)
  • Beethovens musical mentors and acquaintances
    were deeply involved in political thinking.
  • They were members of the Order of the Illuminati,
    and anticlerical group.
  • Beethoven knew of Eulogious Schneider, a
    democratic thinker, eventually guillotined in

Period 1 1770-1792 (cont.)
  • The French Revolution extended from 1789-1799.
  • In a coup detat, Napoleon Bonaparte seized power
    and established a new government, with himself as
    the first consul, a virtual dictator.
  • Napoleon made himself Emperor in 1804.

Period 2 1792-1804
  • Beethoven shows little evidence of being deeply
    interested in the French Revolution until he
    moves to Vienna in 1792.
  • In Vienna, he developed many friendships among an
    influential group of liberal thinkers.

Period 2 1792-1804 (cont.)
  • Beethoven indicated his desire to put music to
    Schillers poem, Ode to Freedom.
  • Beethovens Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) was
    initially dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte. It
    was composed in 1803. Beethoven was attracted to
    the early Napoleonic republican principles.
  • Beethoven later changed the dedication of Eroica
    to Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz after
    Napoleon crowned himself Emperor.

Period 2 1792-1804 (cont.)
  • Beethoven also wrote the opera Fidelio during
    this period. In Fidelio, a nobleman is unjustly
    imprisoned by a political opponent.
  • The opera ends with the King seeking to end
    tyranny and promote justice.
  • Prisoners are released.

Period 2 1792-1804 (cont.)
  • Beethoven also wrote songs during that period
    this suggested support for notably non-Republican
    Germanic politics.
  • Some of these songs were battle songs used to
    support fights with Napoleon.

Period 3 1804-1815
  • In this period, Beethoven distanced himself from
    the French ideas he entertained in his youth.
  • Napoleon fought to capture Vienna when Beethoven
    was finishing his opera, Leonore.
  • The noise of the shelling further hurt his ears.

Period 3 1804-1815 (cont.)
  • By the time of Waterloo, Beethoven was deeply
    defending the old regime in repudiation of
    everything political that was French.
  • In 1813 (two years before Waterloo), he wrote
    Wellingtons Victory (the so-called Battle
    Symphony) in support of the victory over the
    French in the Battle of Victoria.

Period 3 1804-1815 (cont.)
  • With the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 at Waterloo,
    Beethoven wrote a number of patriotic pieces to
    celebrate the restoration of the prior
    establishment. This was his most conservative

Period 3 1804-1815 (cont.)
  • WoO (Work without Opus number) 94 Germania,
  • Opus 136 The Glorious Moment
  • WoO 95 Chorus to the United Princes
  • WoO 97 It is Achieved
  • These are examples of songs celebrating the end
    of the Napoleonic era.

Period 4 1816-1827
  • Post-Napoleon politics in Europe were repressive.
  • Beethoven returned to his earlier more
    progressive political views.
  • The Ninth Symphony came out of this period
    (written between 1822 and 1824).

Period 4 1816-1827 (cont.)
  • Here Beethoven finally puts music to Schillers
    hymn in the famous choral to the Ninth Symphony.
  • The Ninth Symphony was first performed in 1824
    in Vienna at the Kaertnerthortheater to an
    audience so struck by it they gave it five
    ovations and forced the police commissioner to
    order quiet.

Period 4 1816-1827 (cont.)
  • Beethovens Ninth Symphony was considered
    potentially revolutionary in a political sense in
    its day.
  • This is an example of music having a
    representational political force.