Beethoven in America

Beethoven in America

Michael Broyles
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/27/2011
Format: Hardback 61 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35704-5
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2012 AAUP Public and Secondary School Library Selection

Beethoven permeates American culture. His image appears on countless busts and coffee mugs; his music is heard in movie scores, TV soundtracks, commercials, and pop songs; he is Schroeder’s god in Peanuts and Chuck Berry’s freaked-out parent in "Roll over Beethoven." In this book, Michael Broyles seeks to understand the composer as he exists in the American imagination and explores how Beethoven became a cultural icon. Broyles examines Beethoven’s appearance in a variety of contexts: American commercialism, the Afrocentrist and black power movements, and the modernist critique of Romanticism. He considers portrayals of Beethoven in American film and theater and the uses of his music in film scores, as well as references to Beethoven and his music in disco, country, rock, and rap. In the end, he shows that to examine Beethoven on American soil is to examine America itself.

Author Bio

Michael Broyles is Professor of Music at Florida State University and former Distinguished Professor of Music and Professor of American History at Pennsylvania State University. His most recent book, Leo Ornstein: Modernist Dilemmas, Personal Choices (IUP, 2007), written with Denise Von Glahn, won the Irving Lowens Prize in 2007.


“This book fills a great gap in our understanding both of Beethoven and of American culture. The panorama of this narrative encompasses antebellum rice plantations in South Carolina and the film studios of Hollywood, music critic John Dwight and rock star Chuck Berry, Theosophy and Black Power, Beethoven's sketches, and YouTube videos. ”
 — Christopher Reynolds, University of California, Davis

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Table of Contents

Part 1. Arrival and Sacralization
1. Arrival in America
2. Defining Beethoven
3. Deification and Spiritualization
Part 2. Science, Scholars, and Critics
4. Beethoven, Modernism, and Science
5. "The Warm Tropical Summer of Sketch Research": Beethoven and the Cold War
6. Reactions to Modernism: Musical Meaning and the Classical Canon
Part 3. Beethoven and the Dramatic Arts
7. Beethoven on the Silver Screen
8. Beethoven's Music in Film
9. Beethoven in the Theater
Part 4. Beyond Classicism: Beethoven in American Society and Culture
10. "Beethoven Was Black": Why Does It Matter?
11. Beethoven in Popular Music
12. Beethoven Everywhere

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