• Black Beethoven and the Racial Politics of Music History

    Author(s):
    Nicholas Rinehart (see profile)
    Date:
    2013
    Group(s):
    LLC African American
    Subject(s):
    Music criticism, Classical music, Music history, Race/ethnicity, African diaspora
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M62R8C
    Abstract:
    This article assesses the longstanding myths and debates surrounding the supposed African ancestry of German Romantic composer Ludwig van Beethoven. It argues that the “blackwashing” of Beethoven against all historical likelihood is a failed attempt at historical revisionism—while endeavoring to claim Beethoven's genius as a testament to black accomplishment, this recycled and unfounded factoid has had the adverse effect of obscuring the careers and contributions of actual black composers, including Joseph Boulogne de Saint-Georges, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, William Grant Still. Moreover, this tendency to cast Beethoven as African is mirrored by frequent attempts to “whitewash” the reputations of African-descended composers by referring to them by the names of their white contemporaries (e.g. Black Mozart, Black Mahler). I further suggest that, in order to resolve these conundrums, the classical music canon must be reimagined with race at its center.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    12 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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