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Vanishing SensibilitiesSchubert, Beethoven, Schumann$
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Kristina Muxfeldt

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199782420

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199782420.001.0001

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A Curious Measure of Changing Beethoven Reception

A Curious Measure of Changing Beethoven Reception

(p.149) 5 A Curious Measure of Changing Beethoven Reception
Vanishing Sensibilities

Kristina Muxfeldt

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the surprising language of an episode in the Goethe-Zelter correspondence, and its garbled transmission by Adolph Bernhard Marx, tracing a story of changing Beethoven reception, from Zelter’s reluctant fascination to Marx’s blinding championship of him. The unexpected way in which Goethe’s Elective Affinities is brought into this exchange of letters casts light from another angle on Schubert’s “matrimonial anomaly” (chapter two). And Zelter’s casual linking of Beethoven’s music with psychological and sexual abnormality reminds us how much was at stake in Schubert’s oblique depictions of same-sex passion, the subject of chapter six. Goethe, too, suffered similar branding for his treatment of unorthodox social structures in novels and plays and he could not stand the prevalent strain of thinking in his time that equated nature with the social norm.

Keywords:   Beethoven, reception, Goethe, Zelter, A. B. Marx, Elective Affinities, nature, social norms

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