The upcoming conference “Beethoven@251: From the Enlightenment to the Digital Age,” takes place on Friday, October 22 at The Juilliard School and will be livestreamed in its entirety. Please register for free on the conference webpage to receive the streaming links via email:
Guest speakers include Tom Beghin, Scott Burnham, Emily Dolan, Roger Moseley, Alexander Rehding, and Elaine Sisman. The conference is hosted by the Juilliard Music History Department and also features a closing concert that will be live-streamed on the Juilliard LIVE channel. Full schedule, abstracts, and the registration form are found on the conference webpage.
Ottmar Hörl, “Ludwig van Beethoven - Ode an die Freude," Bonn, 2019. Photo: Wolfgang Günzel.
For more than 200 years, Beethoven has been considered the iconic composer of Western modernity and his music the very embodiment of Enlightenment values. Beethoven’s oeuvre and persona have thus been integral to the consolidation of a canonic repertory and to the establishment of institutions of higher learning that, like Juilliard, have devoted themselves to championing classical music as a living performance tradition.
During the last two decades, digital technologies have reconfigured the music industry on a global scale, posing numerous challenges to that living tradition and threatening the long-term sustainability of symphony orchestras, concert halls, and even conservatories. The COVID-19 pandemic and the dire restrictions imposed on the performing arts writ large have heightened those challenges, making persistent concerns about the future of classical music more urgent than ever.
As the entire world was forced to postpone ambitious celebrations planned for the composer’s 250th birthday, Beethoven@251 will address today’s pressing concerns and intertwine past, present, and future seeking to:
1. reappraise the ways in which Beethoven’s music and critical reception have shaped the performance and listening practices that remain linked to the cultural domains of classical music;
2. assess the transformations that old and new technologies have had on those practices and on the very notion of sonic experience after the alleged end of modernity;
3. contemplate how new media and technologies open untapped possibilities not only for Beethoven’s music but also for the future of classical music as a whole within the media ecologies brought by the Digital Age.