By Stephen Rumph
During this provocative research of Beethoven's overdue type, Stephen Rumph demonstrates how deeply political occasions formed the composer's track, from his early enthusiasm for the French Revolution to his later entrenchment through the Napoleonic period. awesome in its breadth of analysis in addition to for its devotion to interdisciplinary paintings in track background, Beethoven after Napoleon demanding situations approved perspectives by way of illustrating the effect of German Romantic political suggestion within the formation of the artist's mature variety. Beethoven's political beliefs, Rumph argues, weren't particularly as liberal as many have assumed. whereas students agree that the works of the Napoleonic period reminiscent of the Eroica Symphony or Fidelio embrace enlightened, innovative beliefs of development, freedom, and humanism, Beethoven's later works have attracted much less political statement. Rumph contends that the later works express transparent affinities with a local German ideology that exalted historical past, faith, and the natural totality of kingdom and society. He claims that because the Napoleonic Wars plunged Europe into political and monetary turmoil, Beethoven's turning out to be antipathy to the French reflected the adventure of his Romantic contemporaries. Rumph continues that Beethoven's flip inward isn't any pessimistic retreat yet a favorable confirmation of latest conservative beliefs.
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Additional info for Beethoven after Napoleon: Political Romanticism in the Late Works
48). The overall design of the whole—counterpoint, harmony, phrase structure— matters to Hoffmann, not the character of the individual parts. Hoffmann’s bias makes sense in the light of “Alte und neue Kirchenmusik,” where he draws a distinction between two opposing musical aesthetics. The “pagan-antique” aesthetic, based upon Aristotelian mimesis, treats music as a vehicle of human expression; the “Christian-modern,” following the Pythagorean model, treats music as the reﬂection of a higher supernatural order.
24 In the end Hoffmann’s personal political beliefs do not particularly matter to this study—any more than his religious beliefs matter to his discussion of Catholic church music. Whatever his private convictions, he participated in the public transmission of a discourse that intimately linked political and aesthetic thought. Indeed, he extended the Romantic political code by translating its ideals into musical terminology. Let us return to the Fifth Symphony review and see how such an aesthetic came to terms with Beethoven’s heroic style.
When we ﬁxate on the description of his spirit realm, an earthly image comes into focus—a tapestry 34 / A Kingdom Not of This World of wars, nations, political strivings, and cultural polemics. Ironically, Hoffmann’s myth of the musical absolute founders on the very work he proposes as the paragon of metaphysical music. The sheer materiality of the Fifth Symphony, with its unrelenting rhythms, triumphal marches, and dramatic trajectory, exposes the cracks and ﬁssures in Hoffmann’s impossible aesthetic.