Chapter

Postlude Postlude Between Utopia and MelancholyBeethoven and the Aesthetic State

Karol Berger

in Bach's Cycle, Mozart's Arrow

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780520250918
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933699 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520250918.003.0011
Postlude Postlude Between Utopia and MelancholyBeethoven and the Aesthetic State

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This chapter shows the extent to which the self-confidence that culminated in The Magic Flute was undermined as the Revolution failed to achieve its democratic goals, arguing that the traditional image of Beethoven as the tone poet of the heroic Revolutionary and Napoleonic history, while not false, is one-sided. The Beethovenian abstraction out of time is the obverse of the Beethovenian heroic quest and its temporal teleology. Similarly to Rousseau's writing, Beethoven's composition is torn between the ideal of engagement in the historical social world and the wish to disengage from it, to escape into the private refuge beyond or within. In Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the ideal of engagement in the historical social world of an emancipating autonomous humanity is nostalgically commemorated as an infinitely postponed utopia, thus transcending in a complex way the simple opposition of cyclical and linear time.

Keywords: Magic Flute; Revolution; Beethoven; Ninth Symphony; cyclical time; linear time

Chapter.  13975 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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