Events | Mann & Beethoven: Political Artists in Revolutionary Times. William Kinderman & Mark Swed in Conversation

Online | December 6, 2020 | 11:00 AM

Ludwig van Beethoven has long been regarded as one of the greatest composers, but he and his work also exert a lasting political influence. Already the Austrian Emperor Franz is reported to have said “something revolutionary lurks in the music.” To this day, Beethoven's music is played worldwide as the anthem of democratization movements, but was also appropriated by totalitarian systems. While we mark and move beyond the composer’s anniversary year 2020, a fresh investigation of the political importance of Beethoven’s artistic legacy seems timely.

Music scholar and pianist William Kinderman gets into a conversation with Mark Swed, music critic for the Los Angeles Times. They talk about references and parallels in the life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven and Thomas Mann, who wrote his Doktor Faustus in California after his escape from Hitler's regime and placed his desperate message there against the background of Beethoven's last symphony.


William Kinderman is professor of music and the Leo M. Klein and Elaine Krown Klein Chair in Performance Studies at the University of California Los Angeles. His many books include Beethoven, Wagner’s “Parsifal” and, most recently, Beethoven. A Political Artist in Revolutinary Times.

Mark Swed has been the classical music critic of the Los Angeles Times since 1996. Before that, he was a music critic for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Wall Street Journal and has written extensively for international publications. Swed is the author of the book-length text to the best-selling iPad app, The Orchestra and is a former associate editor of the Musical Quarterly.

Watch the Event here.

Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V. is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.



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