Beyond Beethoven, 2020–1770

Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

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Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards and the Westfield Center explore keyboard culture around the edges of, in the shadows below, on the distant horizon from the monument that is “Beethoven.” To what extent is Beethoven a pole of both attraction and resistance? In a year saturated with Beethoven, how might we both think through and beyond this single composer’s contribution?

Discussion will aim to place Beethoven’s music in new historical and contemporary contexts, rethinking questions of influence and impact, production and reception. Topics might approach the theme from angles technological, media-theoretical, economic, global, addressing later 18th-century keyboard culture (Haydn, C. P. E. Bach and precursors), composers and performers in Europe’s urban centers (and rural satellites) around 1800, Beethoven’s contemporaries and students, later 19th-century disciples of Beethoven, 20th and 21st-century responses to and even rejections of Beethoven, and the global dissemination and transmission of Beethovenian sounds.

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