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Klinger's Beethoven

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Author Topic: Klinger's Beethoven  (Read 1879 times)
guest2
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« on: June 08, 2009, 12:02:35 pm »


Is this remarkable monument to Beethoven still well-known to-day I wonder? Symons did not care for it; in 1904 he wrote: "A German sculptor has represented Beethoven as a large, naked gentleman, sitting in an emblematical arm-chair with a shawl decently thrown across his knees. In this admired production all the evil tendencies, gross ambitions, and ineffectual energies of modern German art seem to have concentrated themselves. It is to be regretted that Beethoven, rather than any more showy person, Goethe, for instance, with his 'Olympian' air, or Schiller, with his consumptive romanticism, should have been made the conspicuous victim of this worst form of the impotence of the moment. [...] During his lifetime Beethoven suffered many things from his countrymen, and now that he is dead they cannot let him alone in the grave; but must first come fumbling with heavy fingers at his skull (we are told its weight), and then setting up these dishonouring monuments in his honour."


In Germany however the work is still regarded as "the ideal of a heroic Beethoven monument, showing the composer as an epitome of the human mind which can become godlike through achievement" - which does seem a very good idea.

The sculpture is now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig. Its height is 3.1 metres.




Klinger is of course rather better known for his sequence of etchings about the adventures of a glove:


Personally I obtain considerable pleasure from all Klinger's productions! Here for instance is his stirring "Brahms Fantasia":


Symons:


did have something striking to say about Beethoven's late work: "In the last quartettes form is so completely mastered that form, as limit, disappears, and something new, strange, incalculable, arises and exists." We should look out for that condition in other composers' work should we not?
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Reiner Torheit
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2009, 03:34:46 pm »

The "Brahms Fantasia" was, presumably, as close to a naked female body as the composer ever got.  :D  Except for the occasional glimpse of Mrs Schumann's smalls on the washing-line.

Rather than deifying Beethoven,  I would suggest that Beethoven realised what a puny figure mankind cuts when viewed against the majesty and grandeur of the planet on which he hobbles? 

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Tony Watson
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2009, 10:49:17 pm »

Did Beethoven ever smile? It looks as though he's just had a bath and now he's going to cut his toe nails.
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guest2
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2009, 11:36:26 am »

The "Brahms Fantasia" was, presumably, as close to a naked female body as the composer ever got.  :D  Except for the occasional glimpse of Mrs Schumann's smalls on the washing-line. . . .

Here is the article on Brahms from that invaluable reference work The Secret Sex Lives of Famous People (Chancellor Press, 1993):


But Member Torheit seems to have the right idea if not about the rest at least about Mrs. Schumann - that she was to Brahms a mother-figure not a lover.

I wonder whether Brahms was ever made aware of Klinger's "Brahms Fantasia," or even saw a reproduction? Its connection to him (Brahms) seems rather tenuous, does it not? Perhaps Klinger explained it all somewhere.
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IanP
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2009, 01:58:47 pm »

The story about Brahms's having played when young in bars frequented by prostitutes has come under sustained critique from scholars in recent years, since the publication of Kurt Hoffmann's Brahms und Hamburg, which demonstrated that the quarter of Hamburg in question only gained its seedy reputation later on in the century, after Brahms's childhood. That the story of the bars is fictional has been argued by Hoffmann, Kurt Stephenson and Styra Avins, amongst others, though it is maintained by Jan Swafford in his biography of the composer and subsequent articles. Swafford points to the fact that Brahms himself told this story to various people in his late years (this is clear from a number of memoirs); however, he seems practically alone in continuing to believe it, as far as I know. Brahms was well aware of the growth of composer's biography that occurred during his own lifetime, and became very self-conscious about how he would be portrayed in times to come - I can believe that he may have made this story up in the full knowledge that authors of lurid 19th and early-20th century biographies would feed off it at the first opportunity.

In terms of the Klinger work, I remember various discussions of this in some of the Brahms books I have - I will look that up later and see if he knew it (I have a feeling he did).
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Roehre
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2009, 05:53:27 pm »


Is this remarkable monument to Beethoven still well-known to-day I wonder? Symons did not care for it; in 1904 he wrote: "A German sculptor has represented Beethoven as a large, naked gentleman, sitting in an emblematical arm-chair with a shawl decently thrown across his knees. In this admired production all the evil tendencies, gross ambitions, and ineffectual energies of modern German art seem to have concentrated themselves. It is to be regretted that Beethoven, rather than any more showy person, Goethe, for instance, with his 'Olympian' air, or Schiller, with his consumptive romanticism, should have been made the conspicuous victim of this worst form of the impotence of the moment. [...] During his lifetime Beethoven suffered many things from his countrymen, and now that he is dead they cannot let him alone in the grave; but must first come fumbling with heavy fingers at his skull (we are told its weight), and then setting up these dishonouring monuments in his honour."


In Germany however the work is still regarded as "the ideal of a heroic Beethoven monument, showing the composer as an epitome of the human mind which can become godlike through achievement" - which does seem a very good idea.


There exists a brilliant book by Alessandra Comini  The Changing Image of Beethoven - A study in Mythmaking , which basically ends with Klinger, starting with the way Beethoven was portrayed during his lifetime.
Very interesting, very thouroughly researched too. http://books.google.com/books?id=hYBAFG01FOsC&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=Comini++%5Bi%5DThe+Changing+Image+of+Beethoven+-+A+study+in+Mythmaking&source=bl&ots=smnFTnYRAw&sig=fOVR3WUTtK78Cpwa5MYChpF1V18&hl=nl&ei=OdkzStbuBtrKjAeS7PiOCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#PPP1,M1
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