Beethoven and His Time

2020 is the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth. He was born during the Age of Enlightenment and into a time of political revolution in America and France, the Era of Napoleon, the rise of humanism, and the beginning of the Romantic period in Western arts and writing. Beethoven was the leading musical revolutionary in Western music and is considered the first of the nineteenth century Romantic composers. He exerted a powerful influence on the music both of his time and after, an influence which still reverberates today.

This course will be a combination of history and music, along with attention to how Haydn, Mozart, Schiller, and Goethe (and other leading figures of the day) helped shape Beethoven’s philosophy. It will feature recordings of performances and analysis of Beethoven’s major compositions, including, symphonies, piano works, his only opera Fidelio (including its political ramifications) and string quartets as well as discussions of the world-changing events during his lifetime and how Beethoven’s music reflected the time period in which he lived.

  • Days: Wednesdays
  • Times: 3:30 to 5:30 pm
  • Start Date: 2/5/2020
  • End Date: 3/18/2020
  • Sessions: 6
  • Exceptions: 2/26/2020
  • Venue: The Engineering Center
  • Teaching Style: Lecture with questions
  • Weekly Preparation: None
  • Biography:

    Bradford Conner and Benjamin Sears have been performing together since 1989 and lecture regularly on the music they perform. Conner and Sears are leading scholars of Irving Berlin, with six recordings of his songs and print publications. Also opera and history lovers, both have taught at Beacon Hill Seminars and are recipients of the Jack Curtin Award. Sears, a graduate of Ithaca College and editor of The Irving Berlin Reader, wrote a chapter in Adapting The Wizard of Oz: Musical Versions from Baum to MGM and Beyond, and is in the early stages of developing The Fred Astaire Reader. Conner is a graduate of West Virginia University, having also studied at the University of Salzburg (Austria) and the American College of Salzburg. A renaissance individual with degrees in business, musicology, and foreign language, he has lectured and written on his interests in music and world history.

  • Address: 1 Walnut Street, Boston, MA 02108