A Call to the Joy of Life: Why Beethoven’s Ninth Matters to Me

By |2020-09-28T17:13:06-05:00September 28th, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music, Timeless Essays|

For me, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will be forever linked to my life as a Bosnian refugee. In a time of great suffering, this music brought me hope. No amount of ideological nonsense will destroy its inherent beauty and its constant call for the restoration of humanity’s greatness. Western civilization and culture have been under [...]

“King Stephen”

By |2020-08-20T16:42:44-05:00August 19th, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music|

In July 1811, Ludwig van Beethoven accepted a commission to provide incidental music to two plays that were to be performed at the opening of the new Hungarian Theatre in Pest. Authored by August von Kotzebue, King Stephen: or Hungary’s First Benefactor and The Ruins of Athens were nationalistic dramas in the German singspiel format (combining [...]

Was Beethoven a Believer? The Case of the “Missa Solemnis”

By |2020-08-20T15:54:02-05:00August 1st, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Beethoven 250, Catholicism, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music, Religion, Timeless Essays|

Can an unbeliever, a denier of the faith, produce such music as Beethoven did in his Missa Solemnis? It has long been fashionable in music history textbooks to speak of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis as a purely artistic statement that, to be blunt, uses the texts of the Catholic Mass as a convenient springboard for musical experimentation and [...]

Why Is Beethoven So Popular?

By |2020-08-20T15:55:40-05:00June 22nd, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael De Sapio, Music|

It is Beethoven—not Bach or Mozart—who is the most universally popular composer in the classical canon. Why is this? Some authors have posited his democratic social beliefs or his personal story of victory over deafness. These are all certainly factors, but I prefer to look first at the aesthetic qualities of the music itself. Johann [...]

“The Glorious Moment”

By |2020-08-20T16:35:50-05:00June 9th, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music|

Beethoven’s unusual cantata Der glorreiche Augenblick (The Glorious Moment), Op. 136, was commissioned by the Vienna City Administration. The work has an undistinguished text suited to the occasion of its first performance, a tribute to the kings and princes of Europe after the defeat of Napoleon, words that are at least better than those that Beethoven had [...]

The Mighty Nine: Reflections on Beethoven’s Symphonies

By |2020-08-20T15:57:49-05:00May 25th, 2020|Categories: Andrew Balio, Beethoven 250, Joseph Pearce, Ludwig van Beethoven, Mark Malvasi, Michael De Sapio, Music, Stephen M. Klugewicz|Tags: , , , |

Please enjoy this symposium on the nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, with contributions from our distinguished panel, including composer Michael Kurek and Principal Trumpet of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Balio. Clicking on the CD cover art next to each symphony will guide you to a listening recommendation on Spotify; at the bottom of [...]

Revitalizing Beethoven’s Music: The Legacy of Nikolaus Harnoncourt

By |2020-08-20T16:16:20-05:00April 20th, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael De Sapio, Music|

For conductor and musicologist  Nikolaus Harnoncourt, expressive meaning was central to music. Music can cry out in pain or anger, it can soothe, it can exult in joy. Harnoncourt sought to restore these many meanings to music and, for this reason, insisted on drama and urgency in his performances. In particular his Beethoven recordings possess [...]

Beethoven, the Multi-Faceted Revolutionary

By |2020-08-20T16:15:03-05:00April 1st, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music|

Beethoven combined a breadth of contemplative serenity and a concentrated loftiness of thought, a yearning for a place utterly pure and free of this vale of tears, a vale in which he functioned so erratically and from which he eventually completely withdrew. He was a man who eventually tamed his self-serving musical passions, pierced the [...]

“Christ on the Mount of Olives”: Beethoven’s Passion Oratorio

By |2020-08-20T16:32:53-05:00March 25th, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Easter, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael De Sapio, Music|

While many artists and composers have depicted the Passion of Christ, Beethoven carried an especially weighty cross in the form of his privation of hearing, which isolated him from society and forced him to compose music from his “inner ear.” Like Christ in the Garden, he found himself alone and forsaken, wrestling with a tribulation [...]

Beethoven: The Price of Genius

By |2020-08-20T16:12:52-05:00March 6th, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Mark Malvasi, Music, Senior Contributors|

Beethoven’s eccentricities only enhanced his reputation. They confirmed the divine madness that propelled his creative genius. He was a martyr to his art, a new kind of saint whose agonies and ecstasies brought him neither peace of mind nor purity of soul, but an admixture of public renown and disrepute. Sculpture by Max Klinger [...]

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