Tuesday 1 January 2013

Barry Cooper and Edward Walden conduct: Beethoven’s Crisis 2. Inner Circle Seminar 189 (17 March 2013)

Ludwig van Beethoven
by Joseph Carl Stieler
Ludwig van Beethoven
by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller
Josephine Brunsvik

Bettina Brentano
Beethoven's Crisis 2

Criteria for truth in biography
200 years on

Barry Cooper   Edward Walden
Inner Circle Seminar No. 189
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 17 March 2013
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Karl van Beethoven

Antonie Brentano

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?

Barry Cooper is Professor of Music at the University of Manchester; a musicologist, composer, and organist; author of Beethoven and The Creative Process (1990), Beethoven’s Folksong Settings (1994), Beethoven (2008); and co-author of The Beethoven Compendium (1991). He is one of the world’s greatest Beethoven scholars, and an ideal guide to our continued investigation today.
Edward Walden is a lawyer whose book Beethovens Immortal Beloved: Solving the Mystery (2011) meticulously argues the supposedly ‘discredited’ case that Bettina Brentano was the ‘immortal beloved’. Today, he will explain his reasoning, but also give a balanced account of the claims that have been made for Antonie Brentano and Josephine Brunsvik.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26-32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
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: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

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