|Ludwig van Beethoven|
by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller
|Karl van Beethoven|
This seminar will explore whether Ludwig van Beethoven was sane or mad, good or bad, among other things. This is of immediate relevance for psychotherapy. How are such judgements to be made? If Sartre is right that there is no psychology, but that we may improve the biography of a person, how are we to do so? How may we establish biographical facts? How may we interpret the facts we find? In Beethoven’s case, the historical data include his compositions, his sketch books, and his conversation books in which, because he was deaf, his interlocutors wrote their questions, answers and comments from which his own answers, questions and comments can, at best, only be inferred. Can biography, historiography, musicology, psychoanalysis, or existential analysis do justice to such a quintessentially human life as Beethoven’s? What are the criteria for truth in this field?
Why is there impassioned dispute among scholars about the identity of the woman whom Beethoven called his ‘immortal beloved’? Did Beethoven have a lifelong fantasy that he was not his father’s son, as the musicologist Maynard Solomon, appealing to psychoanalysis, contends? Why did Beethoven fight his sister-in-law Johanna for sole custody of his dead brother’s son Karl? Why did Karl attempt suicide? Was Beethoven a tyrannical Führer-figure, as the psychoanalysts Richard and Edith Sterba claim? Did he deserve to be locked up by the police as a tramp, as he once was? Was he ‘ripe for the madhouse’ as the composer Weber said, and many repeat today? Is part of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, which he called his greatest work, ‘insane’, as John Eliot Gardiner, one of its greatest conductors, says? Can we reconcile any of this with the view of Barry Cooper, who leads our discussion today, that Beethoven was a decent, moral man? Professor Cooper writes: ‘Beethoven’s goodness and kindness were so evident to his contemporaries that at least three of them independently asserted that he was even greater as a human being than as a musician. Considering that many regard him as the greatest composer in history, this is astonishing.’ Were these three witnesses deluded?
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: email@example.com