chapter  11
12 Pages

Music and Immanence: The 1902 ‘Klinger: Beethoven Exhibition’ and the Vienna Secession

Beethoven’s compositions have been regarded by many as embodying the idea of music as a universal language.2 Writing on Beethoven’s late style, Martin Cooper described his music and its affect as an ‘inarticulate sense of elevation and heightened awareness’. It ‘speaks to quite ordinary human sensibilities in ways which are unique’.3 The Ninth Symphony, in the words of Maynard Solomon, ‘forever enlarged the sphere of human experience accessible to the creative imagination’.4 Associations of similar profundity were attached to Beethoven by his contemporaries and widely circulated in Vienna during his lifetime as the letter written in February 1824 by a ‘reverent’ circle of influential figures in Vienna and admirers of Beethoven, pleading for performances of his works, reveals.5 It suggested that Beethoven’s ‘universal’ appeal was due to the fact that he had ‘immortalised the emotions of a soul, penetrated and transfigured by the power of faith and super-terrestrial light’.6 As his Tagebuch reflected, in his later years Beethoven determined to sacrifice the pursuit of human worldly happiness for his art. In 1812, he wrote ‘you must not be a human being for yourself but only for others. Live only in your art’.7