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BeethovenA Political Artist in Revolutionary Times$
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William Kinderman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226669052

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226669199.001.0001

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A Double Chill: Beethoven in Metternich’s Vienna

A Double Chill: Beethoven in Metternich’s Vienna

(p.167) Chapter VII A Double Chill: Beethoven in Metternich’s Vienna

William Kinderman

University of Chicago Press

The political context leading to the Congress of Vienna—from 1813 to 1815—is the setting for Beethoven's most substantial involvement in composing musical works bound up with specific historical, political and ceremonial events. Even while he received financial rewards from his battle symphony Wellington's Victory and sought official favor through a piece like the cantata The Glorious Moment written for the Congress of Vienna, Beethoven maintained ironic distance, stating in 1814 that his highest priority was the "empire of the mind or spirit" and not the world of monarchs and monarchies. In these works, Beethoven can be regarded as a pioneer of kitsch at the threshold of the age of commercial and political propaganda. During the aftermath of the Congress of Vienna period, starting in 1816, Beethoven wrote a smaller number of works, pieces of colossal ambition, such as the "Hammerklavier" Sonata op. 106 and the 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, op. 120. The Diabelli Variations show an enormous scope, ranging from ironic parody to sublime transformation of Diabelli's commonplace "cobbler's patch" theme. An overspill from this gigantic project is found in Beethoven's final Piano Sonata in C minor, op. 111, culminating in its transformations of the sublime Arietta.

Keywords:   Congress of Vienna, Wellington's Victory, Diabelli Variations, Sonata in C minor, op 111, Tambora

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