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Composing the Canon in the German Democratic RepublicNarratives of Nineteenth-Century Music$
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Elaine Kelly

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199998098

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199998098.001.0001

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Late Beethoven and Late Socialism

Late Beethoven and Late Socialism

(p.98) (p.99) Chapter 3 Late Beethoven and Late Socialism
Composing the Canon in the German Democratic Republic

Elaine Kelly

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates how the onset of late socialism gave rise to a discourse of lateness. As the GDR stagnated, its foundation myths were deconstructed by disillusioned artists. They contested the hegemony of Enlightenment ideals, and challenged the emphasis on revolutionary heroism and progress in the ruling discourse. Beethoven emerged as a focal point for this dissent. In the years surrounding his bicentenary in 1970, artists rejected the construct of the heroic composer, which had become synonymous with the authoritarian state, and turned instead towards Adorno’s late Beethoven, finding parallels with their own political impotence in this alienated model. The chapter explores official attempts to deal with the growing preoccupation with lateness, and analyzes alternative readings of Beethoven in artworks of the period. Works examined include Kunze’s “Die bringer Beethovens,” Bredemeyer’s Bagatellen für B, and Seemann’s and Kunert’s Beethoven—Tage aus einem Leben.

Keywords:   Late socialism, Lateness, Late Beethoven, Adorno, Alienated, Bredemeyer, Kunze, Kunert, Seemann

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