Roll Over Beethoven

Beethoven and his music have been seized upon as a symbol for all manner of righteous and wrong causes. “Politically, he has had more incarnations than Vishnu. Almost every European political movement, conservative or revolutionary, has made him a posthumous party member. Depending on who you might have talked to over the past two centuries, Beethoven was a Marxist, a Nazi, a parliamentary democrat and a monarchist. He celebrated kings, gave hope to the proletariat, and vigorously supported all sides during the Second World War. No other composer – probably no other artist of any kind – has reflected so many conflicting views. You might say, echoing Jean-Paul Sartre, that because there was a Beethoven, we have to go on reinventing him.”