Beethoven, Napoleon, and Political Romanticism

Leon Plantinga

in The Oxford Handbook of the New Cultural History of Music

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195341867
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Beethoven, Napoleon, and Political Romanticism


This article discusses the influence of Napoleon on the works of Beethoven. It begins by describing how the conflict between Napoleon and the Austrians interrupted Beethoven's career as a composer. It then examines the role Napoleon had in Beethoven's political and philosophical outlook. This is followed by a study of the Landsberg 5, one of the compositions Beethoven was working on during Napoleon's invasion. The article introduces the concept of political romanticism and shows that Napoleon's meteoric rise served as an inspiration and a threat to Beethoven's musical career.

Keywords: Beethoven; Napoleon; political outlook; philosophical outlook; Landsberg 5; political romanticism; inspiration

Article.  8647 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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