Beethoven’s Natures

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Aaron S. Allen, Associate Professor of Musicology and Director, Environment & Sustainability Program (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Beethoven loved nature. The composer was not entirely unusual in this regard: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart before him admired birds and wrote pastoral music (cf. Beckerman 1991: 93-102; Heartz 1991: 107-115), and Gustav Mahler after him was actively engaged in experiencing and representing nature (cf. Johnson 2005: 23-36; Peattie 2002: 185-198). Nor were these German musicians unique in their engagement with the natural world; from musical and philosophical engagements with birds throughout medieval Europe (cf. Leach 2007), to American composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (cf. Von Glahn 2003, 20l3), and from places beyond the West and to nonhuman species (cf. Feld 1982, Martinelli 2009), humans have had a deep and wide fascination with connecting musk and sound with the natural world-even if the explicitly named field of ecomusicology is only a relatively recent phenomenon.1 As an icon of Western musical culture in general and German culture in particular, Beethoven's love of nature has a significant, if sometimes overlooked, place in his biography, music, and reception. Examining this situation contributes to understanding the role of ecological thought in German culture.

Additional Information

Ecological Thought in German Literature and Culture, edited by Gabriele Dürbeck, Urte Stobbe, Hubert Zapf, and Evi Zemanek (Lexington Books, 2017), 371-386
Language: English
Date: 2017
Ludwig van Beethoven, ecomusicology, German culture, Pastoral Symphony

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