Beethoven and His Time
This course is an introduction to the life, music and times of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), one of the central composers in the Western musical tradition. Our basic text will be the classic biography by Maynard Solomon, Beethoven, supplemented by some other readings and extensive listening to the composer’s music. The course will begin with a brief consideration of Haydn and Mozart, the two principal composers of Viennese classicism who more than anyone else influenced the course of Beethoven’s dramatic career. We will then proceed to examine Beethoven’s life in four periods: the early years centered in Bonn, then, after his move to Vienna, the early, middle, and late periods in the Austrian capital. Finally, the course will end by looking at Beethoven’s influence through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and considering composers ranging from Schubert to Ives, Bartók and George Rochberg.