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Beethoven after NapoleonPolitical Romanticism in the Late Works$
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Stephen Rumph

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520238558

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520238558.001.0001

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A Kingdom Not of This World

A Kingdom Not of This World

(p.9) 1 A Kingdom Not of This World
Beethoven after Napoleon

Stephen Rumph

University of California Press

This chapter attempts to review the writings on Beethoven's music. Hoffman championed the unique status of this art, and in Hoffmann's prescient criticism lies the key to a new political interpretation of Beethoven's late works. Hoffmann's musical writings and activities suggest not only patriotic fervor, but the spirit of the reform movement that sprang up in Prussia during the Napoleonic occupation as well. It symbolizes the characteristic compound of politische Romantik: the old struggle against French cultural imperialism coupled with the new campaign against French military imperialism. Hoffmann's review proves most illuminating at precisely those spots where his aesthetic model seems most to conflict with Beethoven's text. It is banked upon to serve as prolegomenon to the task of discovering in the “absolute music” of Beethoven's late works a kingdom that is of this world.

Keywords:   Beethoven, Hoffman, musical writings, politische Romantik, imperialism

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