Beethoven was a political composer who dedicated his art to the problems of human freedom, justice, progress, and community. The political note in his music echoes the tragic times in which he lived. Napoleon seems also to have captivated Beethoven's imagination, creating a sense that combined elements of hero worship, competition, and demonization. The reluctance of critics to associate the aging Beethoven with contemporary politics owes much to the unsavory reputation of the Restoration. The movement known as politische Romantik, “political Romanticism,” provides an answer to how deeply Beethoven was stricken, and whether or not his works mark a genuine shift in his political sympathies, questioning the equation of Romantic politics with Restoration reaction. Because ethical and musical values intertwine so closely in Beethoven's music, their priority must remain a matter of personal inclination, as the political thought in Beethoven's music illuminates the expressive force of his musical thought.
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