A Curious Measure of Changing Beethoven Reception

Kristina Muxfeldt

in Vanishing Sensibilities

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199782420
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919154 | DOI:
A Curious Measure of Changing Beethoven Reception

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This chapter examines the surprising language of an episode in the Goethe-Zelter correspondence, and its garbled transmission by Adolph Bernhard Marx, tracing a story of changing Beethoven reception, from Zelter’s reluctant fascination to Marx’s blinding championship of him. The unexpected way in which Goethe’s Elective Affinities is brought into this exchange of letters casts light from another angle on Schubert’s “matrimonial anomaly” (chapter two). And Zelter’s casual linking of Beethoven’s music with psychological and sexual abnormality reminds us how much was at stake in Schubert’s oblique depictions of same-sex passion, the subject of chapter six. Goethe, too, suffered similar branding for his treatment of unorthodox social structures in novels and plays and he could not stand the prevalent strain of thinking in his time that equated nature with the social norm.

Keywords: Beethoven; reception; Goethe; Zelter; A. B. Marx; Elective Affinities; nature; social norms

Chapter.  6032 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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