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Volume 12 • Number 1

Spring 2005



Beethoven and Freedom:
Historicizing the Political Connection

by Sanna Pederson

Performances of Beethoven commemorating September 11 demonstrate that, to concert givers and audiences at least, the connection between freedom and Beethoven is self-evident. For instance, at each of the Berlin Philharmonic's three appearances at New York's Carnegie Hall in 2001, the program was changed to include a Beethoven symphony. A statement from the orchestra explained that the management "felt that the works of Beethoven, a composer who was motivated by great ideals and believed strongly in liberty and freedom, are an appropriate musical statement in light of the tragic events of Sept. 11." For the opening concert of the New York Philharmonic's season a year later, John Adams's "On the Transmigration of Souls," commissioned by the Philharmonic to mark the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, was scheduled to be paired with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. At the last minute, however, the Leonore Overture No.3 was substituted, making it an all-Beethoven concert.

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