The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: How would Beethoven like America? And why did America love Beethoven? Ask Michael Broyles.

April 3, 2012
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

It is a well-established fact that Beethoven was a liberal for his day a defender of democracy who dedicated his “Eroica” Symphony to Napoleon and then crossed out the dedication when Napoleon declared himself emperor.

Of course, Beethoven (below) also had close ties to the aristocracy, which provided him with patrons for his work.

But he was suspicious of royalty and generally favored populism.

So how would Beethoven have liked America?

And how did Beethoven end up being an icon of classical music, the very embodiment of classical music, in America? (And what did rocker Chuck Berry have to do with it?)

These are intriguing questions. You think they would have been explored at length before.

But scholar Michael Broyles has written “Beethoven in America,” a book-length study of these questions, and the book has generally been very well received.

Read all about it – via these links to reviews:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/19/books/beethoven-in-america-by-michael-broyles-review.html?_r=1

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/beethoven-in-america-by-michael-broyles/2011/10/18/gIQAdNEqDP_story.html

And here is an interview with Michael Broyles (below, right with a Beethoven “doll”), the writer:

http://www.wqxr.org/#!/articles/wqxr-features/2011/nov/09/how-beethoven-became-american-icon/

What do you think of Broyles’ argument?

If you read the book, what do you think of it?

And why do you think Beethoven is so popular in America – ad whether Beethoven would have liked America in hid=s lifetime?

The Ear wants to hear.


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