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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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Vox Populi, Vox Dei

Vox Populi, Vox Dei

(p.195) 8 Vox Populi, Vox Dei
Beethoven after Napoleon

Stephen Rumph

University of California Press

This chapter provides an account of the works of scholars who suggest that speech and song together press to fulfill Beethoven's drive toward immediacy of communication. This evokes a tantalizingly musical metaphor, i.e. voice. Voice here signifies authorial presence, as questioned by post structuralism. It is the aura of the Ninth Symphony, the over-determinacy of Beethoven's intentions, that lifts the work above ideology and into the realm of transformative art. The chapter examines the twin claims of vox populi, vox dei, a flow of popular voices, ebb of authorial voice, by focusing on the finale of the Ninth Symphony. The “Ode to Joy” enshrines Beethoven's most famous populist melody, and also has another transcendent voice that speaks through the recitative in the lower strings. Both voices trace their source back to 1809, winding through a rich intellectual landscape. By retracing this development, the chapter clarifies what Beethoven's “voices” are saying.

Keywords:   Beethoven, musical metaphor, voice, vox populi, vox dei, Ninth Symphony

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