NARA - National Archives and Records Administration

01/05/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/05/2021 08:40

(Virtual) Program on Beethoven in America Jan. 7

Washington, DC

Celebrate composer Ludwig van Beethoven's influence in America on Thursday, January 7, at 7 PM ET. Robert Aubry Davis, host of Millennium of Music and WETA's Around Town, will moderate a panel including: Michael Broyles, professor of Musicology at Florida State University and author of Beethoven in America; Mina Yang, professor of Arts and Humanities at Minerva Schools at the Keck Graduate Institute and author of Planet Beethoven: Classical Music at the Turn of the Millennium; and Kenneth Slowik, Artistic Director, Smithsonian Chamber Music Society. This event is held in conjunction with our online featured document display, 250 Years of Beethoven. Register to attend. Watch the virtual program livestreamed on the National Archives YouTube channel.

250 Years of Beethoven - related online featured document display
This month marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. Hailed as a musical genius, Beethoven wrote his first work at the age of 13 and went on to compose more than 700 pieces in his lifetime. His compositions stand out as much for their complexity as their personality. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, beginning with its distinctive four-note strain 'short-short-short-long,' is one of his most recognizable compositions. However, his Ninth Symphony, composed in 1823 when he was almost totally deaf, has long been regarded as his most accomplished work and is one of the most performed symphonies in the world. The online exhibit includes a page of Symphony No. 5 in C Minor from President Harry S. Truman's extensive sheet music collection.

Not only do Beethoven's works continue to be performed across the country in the concert hall, on air and online, but his compositions have reverberated throughout American popular culture. Echoes of his compositions continue to radiate throughout popular culture. References to Beethoven can be found in Chuck Berry's 1956 song Roll Over Beethoven, with the pianist Schroeder in the comic strip Peanuts, and as a role by the composer himself in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. His music also appears in numerous television shows and movies, including the Ninth Symphony in the 1988 action film Die Hard, and a disco adaptation of his Fifth Symphony, A Fifth of Beethoven, in the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever.