Beethoven, Ludwig Van


Beethoven, Ludwig Van
(1777–1827)
   The music of Ludwig Van Beethoven held a lifelong fascination for STANLEY KUBRICK. He was not the first, nor certainly the last, to indulge this passion. After attending a performance of the Ninth Symphony in 1841, Robert Schumann wrote, “BEETHOVEN-what a word—the deep sound of the mere syllables has the ring of eternity. ” For many others, Beethoven’s turbulent life and the emotional nature, disruptive rhythms, dissonant harmonies, and unconventional forms of the music elicited a different kind of reaction. In his 1889 novel The Kreutzer Sonata (named after a Beethoven violin sonata), Leo Tolstoy tells the story of a maniacally jealous husband,Vasa Pozdnischeff, whose listening to Beethoven unleashes murderous impulses. After declaring that the music “produces a terrible effect”—“it seemed as if new feelings were revealed to me, new possibilities unfolded to my gaze, of which I had never dreamed before”—Vasa stabs to death the wife he presumes to have been unfaithful. This correlation of the music with violence has continued to this day. Hitler appropriated Beethoven for his own Nazi propaganda. At the same time, across the English Channel, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) prefaced each shortwave broadcast with a “V for Victory” motto, derived from the opening four notes of the Fifth Symphony, which parallel in their duration the three dots and one dash that stand for the letter “V” in international Morse code. In the 1970s the party newspaper of the People’s Republic of China denounced Beethoven’s music, accusing it of embodying “cruel oppression and exploitation of peasants. ”
   Serendipitously for Kubrick, the character of Alex in ANTHONY BURGESS’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE likewise indulges his violent fantasies with Beethoven’s music. This, of course, gave Kubrick the opportunity to excerpt Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony during Alex’s dream sequences. (Beethoven worked on the symphony between 1817 and its premiere on May 7, 1824, at the Kaernthnerthor Theater in Vienna. ) Featured in the film are the scherzo movement and the finale. The former, marked Molto vivaci (“very lively”), is in triple time and consists solely of repetitions of a single phrase of three notes. The celebrated choral finale utilizes portions of the text of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” (1785). After completing A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick contemplated making a film on the life of Napoleon. Kubrick suggested to Anthony Burgess a script that would follow the narrative implications of another Beethoven symphony, the Third (“Eroica”), Opus 55. The first movement was to suggest struggle and victory, the second Napoleon’s public funeral, and the third and fourth movements the elevation of the man to mythic status. Although Burgess’s novel, Napoleon Symphony:A Novel in Four Movements, was indeed published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1974, Kubrick’s film project was abandoned.
   Although Kubrick never made a movie about Beethoven, the composer has been the subject of many films, from Abel Gance’s Un Grand Amour de Beethoven (1938), to Walt Disney’s The Magnificent Rebel (1962), Paul Morrissey’s Beethoven’s Nephew (1987), and Bernard Rose’s Immortal Beloved (1994). If these films are fraught with biographical inaccuracies and musical distortions (listen to Walter Carlos’s transmogrifications of Beethoven in A Clockwork Orange), they at least bear out the words of Saki regarding works of historical fiction: They are true enough to be interesting but not true enough to be tiresome.
   References
   ■ Comini, Alessandra, The Changing Image of Beethoven: A Study in Mythmaking (New York: Rizzoli, 1987);
   ■ Tibbetts, John C. ,“They Oughta Be in Pictures:The Composer at the Movies,” American Record Guide, January-June 1995, pp. 6–10.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Beethoven, Ludwig van — Beethoven, Ludwig van, Ludwig van, wurde den 17. Dezember 1770 (nach einer andern Angabe den 16. Dezember 1772) zu Bonn geboren, wo sein Vater Tenorsänger in der kurfürstlichen Kapelle war. Frühzeitig entwickelte sich sein gewaltiges Talent für… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Beethoven, Ludwig van — • Composer (1770 1827) Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Beethoven, Ludwig van — (baptized Dec. 17, 1770, Bonn, archbishopric of Cologne died March 26, 1827, Vienna, Austria) German composer. Born to a musical family, he was a precociously gifted pianist and violist. After nine years as a court musician in Bonn, he moved to… …   Universalium

  • Beethoven,Ludwig van — Bee·tho·ven (bāʹtō vən), Ludwig van. 1770 1827. German composer. Among the greatest composers in history, he began to lose his hearing in 1801 and was deaf by 1819. His music, which formed a transition from classical to romantic composition,… …   Universalium

  • Beethoven, Ludwig van — (1770–1827)    The composer was the offspring of a musical family that had emigrated to Germany from the Netherlands. At 13 years of age, Beethoven played viola and harpsichord in the house orchestra of the prince bishop of Bonn. He studied… …   Historical dictionary of Austria

  • Beethoven, Ludwig van — ► (1770 1827) Compositor alemán. Recibió lecciones de Mozart. Sobresalió en la sinfonía, que con él alcanza la madurez expresiva y formal; compuso nueve en total: la primera en do mayor (1800); la segunda en re mayor (1803); la tercera en mi… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Beethoven, Ludwig van — (baptized 17 December 1770, Bonn – 26 March 1827, Vienna)    Renowned chiefly for his supreme mastery of instrumental genres symphony, concerto, sonata, and string quartet Beethoven only composed four explicitly sacred works: the oratorio… …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • Beethoven, Ludwig van —  (1770–1827) German composer …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • BEETHOVEN (L. van) — Si nous ignorions tout de la vie de Beethoven, mais si son œuvre entière nous était parvenue, nous la comprendrions, nous l’aimerions peut être moins profondément, mais cette œuvre continuerait de nous apparaître comme celle d’un des plus grands… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Ludwig van Beethoven — (1770–1827); Idealisiertes Gemälde von Joseph Karl Stieler von 1820 …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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