Musical Narratives of Disability Overcome: Beethoven

Joseph N. Straus

in Extraordinary Measures

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199766451
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895007 | DOI:
Musical Narratives of Disability Overcome: Beethoven

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Beginning around 1800, composers evoke disability in the form of “tonal problems” (i. e. non-normative melodic or harmonic events) and then construct a musical narrative in which the disability is overcome, the abnormal element is tonally normalized. In certain works by Beethoven, especially those of his middle period (his so-called “heroic” period), this narrative of disability overcome reflects both the contemporary history of disability (the emergence of institutions designed to remediate disability and a concurrent shift of attitude toward disability) and Beethoven’s own efforts to come to terms with his emerging deafness.

Keywords: tonal problem; narrative; disability; overcome; abnormal; normalize; heroic; Beethoven; deafness

Chapter.  9234 words. 

Subjects: Popular Music

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