Beethoven in Translation: Reframing the Interwar Commemorations of 1920 and 1927
In contrast to literature and theater, Western art music has been cast for centuries as a universal language (or world language) eo ipso, and none more than Beethoven’s. A trope already well established in the nineteenth century, transnational constructions of Beethoven as a universal genius took on a particular slant after World War I: he became a messenger of peace, whose compositions transcended borders for the greater good of humanity without any need of translation. These postwar interpretations of Beethoven were crystallized in two remarkably different commemorative moments: the celebrations of his 150th birthday in 1920 and the centenary commemorations of his death, in 1927. Focusing on these two historical moments, my project explores transnational commemorative culture from a glocal perspective by reflecting on local translations of transnationally circulating themes.
Annegret Fauser’s work emphasizes how music intersects with its social, political, and artistic contexts, focusing on music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is author of Der Orchestergesang in Frankreich zwischen 1870 und 1920 (1994), Musical Encounters at the 1889 Paris World’s Fair (2005), Sounds of War: Music in the United States during World War II (2013)—for which she received both the Music in American Culture Award of the AMS and an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award—The Politics of Musical Identity: Selected Writings (2015), and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring (2017), honored in 2018 with the ASCAP Foundation’s Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism.
with Michael A. Figueroa (eds.), Performing Commemoration: Musical Reenactment and the Politics of Trauma, Ann Arbor 2020; “Beethoven in den USA. Lokale Traditionen und diasporische Identitäten während des Zweiten Weltkriegs," in: Schriften zur Beethovenforschung 30 (in press); “French Entanglements in International Musicology during the Interwar Years,” in: Revue de Musicologie 103, 2017, S. 499–528.
Wie ist es möglich, dass auch nach Ende des Ersten Weltkriegs die Beethoven-Jubiläen von 1920 und 1927 einen so deutlich transnationalen Charakter annahmen? Dieser Vortrag spürt den weltweiten Reaktionen auf Beethoven nach und fragt, warum die Erinnerungskulturen um den deutschen Komponisten weiterhin grenzüberschreitend blieben.