Chapter

The Heroic Sublime

Stephen Rumph

in Beethoven after Napoleon

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238558
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930124 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238558.003.0003
The Heroic Sublime

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This chapter argues that Beethoven continued to give musical expression to his early convictions long after many of his peers had retreated into mysticism and reactionary medievalism. As late as 1808, he remained a steadfast, even anachronistic, proponent of Aufklärung. The Gellert songs provide a new glimpse into the ideological meanings of Beethoven's heroic designs, especially the Eroica. The story of Beethoven's heroic sublime points to a transcendence in the Fifth Symphony, a four-stage rocket blast into the noumenal sphere. It is this conception of the sublime that Beethoven seems to have had in mind with “Die Ehre Gottes aus der Natur.” By awakening people to their rational vocation, the sublime teaches freedom. This argument is supported by extrapolating several examples of Beethoven's sublime, which are explained in detail.

Keywords: Beethoven; musical expression; sublime; Aufklärung; Eroica

Chapter.  8141 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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