Beethoven, literature, and the idea of tragedy

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    To understand the literary references and associations in Beethoven’s works, we first need to understand Beethoven’s engagement with the arts more generally and his attitude towards contemporary literary tropes. This article interrogates some of the mythology that has enveloped Beethoven since his death that has in many ways concealed his cultural persona, so as to present Beethoven as the epitome of true genius, a man not weighed down by the world around him. Through an analysis of Beethoven’s writings and his Egmont overture, I show Beethoven actively engaged with contemporary culture and modern literature and that programmatic readings and literary understandings of Beethoven’s works have the potential to enrich and inform our understanding of Beethoven’s oeuvre and why Beethoven may have placed the tragic experience at the core of his heroic style.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-53
    Number of pages13
    JournalMusical Times
    Issue number1927
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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