by Tank ~ April 22nd, 2010. Filed under: Chapter 19: The Age of Ideology in Western Europe.

Beethoven\’s Moonlight Sonata

There are numerous ways of capturing the heart of the Romance movement- perhaps, none better than the language of the written note.

German-born Ludwig van Beethoven demonstrated a refined sense of the movement that was sweeping through the 18th and 19th centuries.  Immediately preceding his era of music was the Classical Age, a period dominated by the precise, mathematic compositions of Mozart and Haydn.  Mozart is often taught in theory classes for his “traditional” value, with his selected chord progression following predictable and linear trends.

Beethoven’s largest contribution is thought to have been his inclusion of the more passionate sonata.  His pieces were revolutionary, if for nothing else because of the innovative expressiveness of every line.  This was soon the new standard for popular European music, and the Romantic Era ushered in.

This artistic ingenuity represents much of what the broader Romantic era stood for.  The exchange of a scientific perspective of beauty for a more aesthetic one is what the Romantics were all about.  Beethoven (and later Brahms and Rachmaninoff) rejected recent cultural advancements and implemented standards of their own.

Original Manuscript from William Blake

In the field of literature, William Blake, Alexander Pushkin, and William Wordsworth responded in similar fashion to Enlightenment influence on poetry.  All of these artisans focused on the significance on the individual- they believed that absolute truth was available not through reason, but through an emphasis on personal and aberrant experience.

This “support of the arts” bears semblance to the ongoing discussion in academic life today.  Is there a use in “finding the beauty” as the Romanticist would strive to do?  Is there practical support in high schools funding music and theater programs?  I believe there is more use in supplying the science, math, technology, and vocational departments of schools- fields that develop transferable skills that may eventually lead to the job market and pragmatic contributions to society.  Invest where it will be best used.

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