Unvain Repetition by Ken Myers

Unvain Repetition

Last year marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven. Closure of concert halls because of Covid-19 caused the cancellation of many commemorative events that had been planned for years, though some performers scrambled to sell tickets to online performances.

Reading the prose that announced these festivities suggests that Beethoven is typically idolized for something other than his symphonies, piano sonatas, and string quartets. Christian Lorenz, artistic director of the Germany-based Beethoven Anniversary Society, offered his view that "as an individual, 'modern' artist, Beethoven targeted society, in fact humanity as a whole. His musical expression of a utopia where people live together in peace is appealing." For Lorenz, as for many others, Beethoven is a noble champion of radical freedom and glorious progress, a commanding prophet and high priest in the Kingdom of Man.

French-born pianist George Lepauw, founder of the International Beethoven Project, says that Beethoven deserves our attention and admiration because his "ambition was to shake the world, raise consciousness, and bring about a more just humanity." Such goals could be achieved by writing music with the power to "carry the audience to new spheres of emotional heights." Inspired initially by the French Revolution,


Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.

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