Beethoven and Rossini have always been more than a pair of famous composers. Even during their lifetimes, they were well on the way to becoming 'Beethoven and Rossini' - a symbolic duo, who represented a contrast fundamental to Western music. This contrast was to shape the composition, performance, reception and historiography of music throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Invention of Beethoven and Rossini puts leading scholars of opera and instrumental music into dialogue with each other, with the aim of unpicking the origins, consequences and fallacies of the opposition between the two composers and what they came to represent. In fifteen chapters, contributors explore topics ranging from the concert lives of early nineteenth-century capitals to the mythmaking of early cinema, and from the close analysis of individual works by Beethoven and Rossini to the cultural politics of nineteenth-century music histories.
Musicians, music lovers and music critics have typically considered Beethoven's overtly political music as an aberration; at best, it is merely notorious, at worst, it is denigrated and ignored. In Political Beethoven Nicholas Mathew returns to the musical and social contexts of the composer's political music throughout his career - from the early marches and anti-French war songs of the 1790s to the grand orchestral and choral works for the Congress of Vienna - to argue that this marginalized functional art has much to teach us about the lofty Beethovenian sounds that came to define serious music in the nineteenth century. Beethoven's much-maligned political compositions, Mathew shows, lead us into the intricate political and aesthetic contexts that shaped all of his oeuvre, thus revealing the stylistic, ideological and psycho-social mechanisms that gave Beethoven's music such a powerful voice - a voice susceptible to repeated political appropriation, even to the present day.
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