Secret Remedies

Guerrieri’s chapter, “Secret Remedies” is about Beethoven appearing in history around the globe and his music’s effect on society. His music represents, recommends, and stuns. Guerrieri gave an example of one man, who after the Allegro finished of the Fifth, “he said, firmly and authoritatively, “is the point where Human Genius has reached its uttermost limits,”–and with this he strode grandly from the box, in so ethereally transcendental manner that, had any one met me immediately afterwards, and told me “Your friend has gone straight up through the roof into the sky above, all among the angels” I should not have been surprised:indeed, I should rather have expected it.” The effect of Beethoven’s Fifth on individuals is varied and amazing. How on earth could one person be so moved by a music piece? For others, however, Beethoven was more than an inspiring collection of works. In the Victorian ages, one element he represented was gendered: “Beethoven’s music became inseparable from Victorian femininity.” For a woman of that time to be able to play piano, specifically Beethoven, was a “reminder of Beethoven’s status as an ornament of the upper class.” Through literature, female characters of class often play his music, using the idea of “Beethoven” as more than just  a composer, but as an almost landmark. Everyone understood the references to Beethoven and what they entailed-the idea of wealth, brains, fate, triumph, struggle, he became a sort of literary term commonly used represent great things.

In a musical and racial pyramid, Beethoven was on top. Markham complained about how the concerts by Henry Wood, who was German, contained a repertoire of German music. Especially because it was a time of war, the idea of having only German music was appalling, however once asked about Beethoven, Markham didn’t consider him as a German:

R. Mcneill: Is there no Beethoven in the programme?

A. Markham: No, the whole of the programma at some of these concerts contains no music except German.

F. Banbury: Beethoven was a German.

This suggests that Beethoven was placed in the highest tier, becoming a norm for performances who is so incomparable to others, he rises above categories and has no labels or placement. However, in American, this placement changed drastically. Because of the war, the anti-German idea spread and Mrs. Jay & co. led others to eliminate any German repertoire as, “part of a movement directed toward the complete extinction of German influence in this country.” Guerreiri used Karl Muck, a German orchestra conductor for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, as an example. Muck had originally conducted the Fifth in 1906 which was “brilliant and effective”, therefore asked to return in 1912. Unfortunately, after once more conducting the Fifth, strong criticism resulted because an American flag was not displayed on stage, and then loyalties were later questioned when local women and musical clubs requested they perform the “Star-Spangled Banner” as an introduction to the concert. However because Higginson-in charge of the orchestra-declined, not wanting anyone to tell him how to perform his duties. Muck was later then painted as the villain, a “German interloper arrogantly insulting American pride,” and later he was arrested and taken to an internment camp for Germans. In the camp he only conducted one performance, Eroica, not wanting to do the Fifth possibly because the themes of struggle and triumph were to ironic. The concept of Beethoven has evolved over the decades and centuries, beginning with a short, stubby composer of “new” music all the way to a symbol of class, enemies, emotion, and so much more the idea is indescribable. The single name, Beethoven, holds myriad possibilities of meaning that come from all over the world from the moment he first composed to the present, and will inevitably continue on forever.

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