Opinion: The appeal of Beethoven’s wildness, loneliness in today’s culture

Posted on: February 4, 2020

“Beethoven will be 250 years old this December … and the world of classical music is set to make sure you know it,” writes George Grella in Wednesday’s (1/29) New York Classical Review. “He was the first existential artist, and he was also the first modern artist, making music for the public and creating the idea of the artist as a separate social class…. Wildness is an integral quality in Beethoven…. Beethoven is not genteel; he’s not a part of the culture of classical music, of institutions, of academic composers and musicologists that claims him. His agenda is universal: being human, and being one’s self…. As classical music became ‘classical,’ it gradually lost the point of what Beethoven did, which was not to make art that we should admire from a distance.” Beethoven’s music is “made out of a history of beatings at the hands of his drunken father, out of illness, loneliness, personal pride and dignity. It’s a diamond squeezed out of the pressures of life. Popular music dominates the public sphere because it is about just those things…. Beethoven is those things, too.”