#bthvn2020 or #BANbthvn
January 27, 2020 In: Sound Bits
This past December, the music world celebrated the 250th anniversary of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s birth. The year-long celebration of “Beethoven@250” runs the gamut, including multiple high-profile orchestras performing all of the symphonies, numerous stagings of Fidelio, complete performances of the piano sonatas, museum exhibitions, an augmented reality tour of Vienna, and, of course, the hashtag #bthvn2020.
Andrea Moore, questioning the impact of #bthvn2020, recently published an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune: “Commentary: Beethoven was born 250 years ago. To celebrate, how about we ban his music for a year?” Moore argues that concert halls are already saturated with Beethoven’s music and asks if additional performances of his music does anything to bring new attention to his work. Rather than the initiatives highlighted above, Moore suggests a one year ban on the performance of Beethoven’s music. Moore states that “anniversary-year celebrations ask us — or should ask us — to rethink composers, reconsider their legacies, hear something new in their familiar music. Letting Beethoven’s music fall silent for the duration of his 250th anniversary year might give us a new way into hearing it live again.” Moore encourages that the “Beethoven void” be a space for performing new music and creating new level of relevance in the music world.
In many regards both “camps” share the same goal—bringing awareness to and celebrating the life and music of Beethoven. Further, both sides present innovative and impactful proposals. What is the potential impact of each proposal? Is there a third option? Can we celebrate Beethoven’s music while also making space for new music and new ways to hear and understand the composer’s work? What factors influence how a composer is celebrated?