Beethoven & Freedom
Over the last two centuries, Beethoven's music has been synonymous with the idea of freedom, in particular a freedom embodied in the heroic figure of Prometheus. This image arises from a relatively small circle of heroic works from the composer's middle period, most notably the Eroica Symphony. However, the freedom associated with the Promethean hero has also come under considerably critique by philosophers, theologians and political theorists; its promise of autonomy easily inverts into various forms of authoritarianism, and the sovereign will it champions is not merely a liberating force but a discriminatory one. Beethoven's freedom, then, appears to be increasingly problematic; yet his music is still employed today to mark political events from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the attacks of 9/11. Even more problematic, perhaps, is the fact that this freedom has shaped the reception of Beethoven music to such an extent that we forget that there is another kind of music in his oeuvre that is not heroic, a music that opens the possibility of a freedom yet to be articulated or defined. By exploring the musical philosophy of Theodor W. Adorno through a wide range of the composer's music, Beethoven and Freedom arrives at a markedly different vision of freedom. Author Daniel KL Chua suggests that a more human and fragile concept of freedom can be found in the music that has less to do with the autonomy of the will and its stoical corollary than with questions of human relation, donation, and a yielding to radical alterity. Chua's work makes a major and controversial statement by challenging the current image of Beethoven, and by suggesting an alterior freedom that can speak ethically to the twenty-first century.
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Absolute Music abstract Adorno Aesthetic Theory autonomy bars beautiful becomes Beethoven Hero Beethoven’s heroic Beethoven’s music beklemmt blank Burnham Cambridge University Press Cavatina Choral Fantasy chord Chua claims critique death demythologisation Dialectic of Enlightenment divine echo Emmanuel LÚvinas Eroica Symphony Eurydice example eyes fate Fidelio final force formal freedom gaze German gesture gift grace Grosse Fuge harmonic hear Hegel heroic Beethoven Hoeckner hope horn call human idea Kant Kant’s Kantian Kraft L’Orfeo late Beethoven late style Leonore Leonore’s LÚvinas Ludwig van Beethoven material Maynard Solomon melody merely metaphysics Milbank Minima Moralia Missa solemnis modern monad Monteverdi’s motif mourning movement myth narrative Negative Dialectics Ninth Symphony noumenal opera Orpheus Orpheus’s particular philosophy Piano Sonata political precisely Programming the Absolute Quartet Schiller sense song sound speed structure sublime thematic theme Theodor WAdorno Theology tion tonal totality trans transcendence voice writes Adorno Zizioulas