Oct 23, 2021  
College Catalog 2019-2020 
College Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

MHMUS 442 — 33 Variations on Beethoven

3 credits
Anne-Marie Reynolds


Prerequisite: MHMUS 311 .This course’s title is taken from the play by Moisés Kaufman, which in turn refers to Beethoven’s 33 Variations on a Theme of Anton Diabelli. This semester, our theme will be “Why Beethoven?” Why the ceaseless fascination, sometimes bordering on obsession, with this now decomposing artist? The answer will become clear only as the course unfolds, just as the significance of Diabelli’s theme to Beethoven’s 33 Variations is revealed only as the piece progresses. Musicologist William Kinderman regards the recurrences of Diabelli’s theme in the variations as parodies. After first surveying Beethoven’s oeuvre, we too will be studying Beethoven “parodies”—that is, the various images of the composer and his music that, since his death, have been created and promoted to various—sometimes contradictory—cultural and political ends. Kinderman also sees a large-scale progression spanning the Diabelli Variations as a whole. Hopefully an analogous overriding unity will become clear through our mission to understand all things Beethoven this semester, so that we may ultimately arrive at an informed and nuanced answer to the question “Why Beethoven?”