Beyond Beethoven, 2020–1770


Cornell University, Ithaca NY
September 17–20, 2020

Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, this conference and concert festival explores 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?

The Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards and the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies invite proposals for concerts, lecture-demonstrations and talks that place Beethoven’s music in new historical and contemporary contexts, rethinking questions of influence and impact, production and reception. Contributions might approach the topic 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.

We particularly welcome proposals from younger scholars, and some funding assistance is available for travel to the conference for current students. We encourage performers to design concert programs that may include no more than one work, or set of works, by Beethoven, along with others that critique or shed new light on it, and that make use of the diverse instruments at the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards. Abstracts of c. 300 words, describing a 25-minute paper, recital or lecture-demonstration, should be sent to by February 15, 2020.