Ian Fantom – Dec 15, 2020
Ludwig van Beethoven was baptised on 17 December, 1770, and so was probably born on the 16th. I remember the fuss made by the mainstream media on the occasion of his 200th anniversary just 50 years ago, but where are the mainstream media now? I’ve heard nothing from them so far in the UK about the 250th anniversary. Could that just be because of the current obsession with COVID-19 and the lockdown, or could there be some other reason for this silence? After all, Beethoven is still just as popular as he was 50 years ago, even if playing live music in concert halls is being made impossibly difficult by The Powers That Be.Could it possibly be that reviving the memory of a dissident could be dangerous for the current world order? After all, all sorts of dissidents today are being censured by the big corporations of Silicon Valley.
Medical experts in various fields are being suppressed, merely because they challenge the wisdom of the World Health Organisation, an organisation heavily infiltrated by the elites of Silicon Valley. Such wisdom is being brainlessly passed on by the political classes, and by churnalists who get paid per thousand words rather than per thousand facts.
According to one analyst, “Beethoven was so political that, by the end of his life, some of his friends refused to dine with him: either they were bored of his constant politicizing or they feared police spies would overhear him”. That is a sentiment that many of us have encountered, particularly during the present century. I know the feeling well. I was an unlikely dissident. I’ve never been a member of a political party. I had always voted for ‘moderate’ parties, in the belief that they represented sensible, moderate policies. From the age of 13 onwards I always tried to listen to the BBC news every day, because I knew that democracy depended on people knowing what was going on.
In 2003 things began to happen both at the national level and on a personal basis in a small society for language teaching reform, which led to my observation that the ‘moderates’, whilst talking peace were making war, and parliamentary ‘extremists’ were saying, “Hang on … Where’s the evidence?”, and now I see that some ‘extremists’ who are talking war are making peace.
There’s now a palpable sense of frustration and even anger throughout the population at the shenanigans of the UK’s government spokespeople. But who is the government? It doesn’t seem to be the Cabinet, or even the Prime Minister, whose only skill seems to be as a wordsmith, acting as a frontman for The Powers That Be. Things aren’t making sense to people, and many are developing a deep sense of anxiety as they try to make sense of the nonsensical. Some are castigated as being mentally, ill. I read recently that the German state of Saxony has allocated a couple of dozen places in psychiatric hospitals for those who cannot be persuaded to conform to government regulations on COVID. This is despite the fact that tens of thousands of real medics are now speaking out against such draconian laws. People need to talk, and to be listened to. I have spent many hours talking with such people. Much of this was within our London-based current affairs group, Keep Talking. The origin of that name was the idea of keeping evidence of likely state crimes current, rather than letting it be dumbed down and forgotten about by the mass media. Talking about such things in the light of current events seemed to be the only antidote. Gradually, we realised that our group had, too, a therapeutic value. Some people need to be listened to. Certainly that applied to Beethoven two hundred years ago.
The quote I gave is from an article by historian Chris Wright, professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and it appeared in an article in Dissent Magazine headed ‘The Revolutionary Beethoven’. “In the year of the great composer’s 250th birthday, we can retune our ears to pick up the subversive and passionately democratic nature of his music”, he stated.
“Beethoven was a child of the Enlightenment and remained so his whole life”, Chris Wright explains. He was born in Bonn, a town “steeped in the most progressive thought of the age … but it was Schiller whom Beethoven worshipped”. Chris Wright describes Schiller as “the poet of freedom, impassioned enemy of tyrants everywhere”. Schiller’s Ode to Joy, which Beethoven set to music in his Ninth Symphony, was about freedom, as the final verse makes clear:
Rettung von Tyrannenketten,
Grossmut auch dem Bösewicht,
Hoffnung auf den Sterbebetten,
Gnade auf dem Hochgericht!
Auch die Toten sollen leben!
Brüder, trinkt und stimmet ein,
Allen Sündern soll vergeben,
Und die Hölle nicht mehr sein.
Rescue from the tyrant’s fetters,
Mercy to the villain e’en,
Hope within the dying hours,
Pardon at the guillotine!
E’en the dead shall live in heaven!
Brothers, drink and all agree,
Every sin shall be forgiven,
Hell forever cease to be.
To many, the words, as presented in Beethoven’s Choral Symphony, represent the brotherhood of man, according to the line “Alle Menschen werden Brüder” (All of mankind become brothers) in the first verse. The choral part has been used by a wide variety of groups for that purpose. The EU’s website comments that this is a vision that Beethoven shared, and Beethoven’s musical theme became the EU’s anthem in 1985, but ironically, they add, “There are no words to the anthem; it consists of music only. In the universal language of music, this anthem expresses the European ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity” – though they don’t say one of joy.
There has been speculation that the original title of the poem was ‘Ode to Freedom’ [An die Freiheit]. Professor of German at the University of California, Gail K Hart, wrote an essay on ‘Schiller’s “An die Freude’ and the Question of Freedom’, in which she states: “Schiller has a certain visibility as the ‘poet of freedom’ and … has developed a strong brand identification with ‘freedom’. An effective illustration from the current political sphere is his central place in the iconography of the Lyndon LaRouche Movement, which calls its cultural arm the ‘Schiller Institute’. LaRouche lays claim to Schiller because of his freedom-loving ‘republican opposition to oligarchic tyranny”, and the Schiller Institute exists to apply his ideas to ‘the contemporary world crisis’.
The purpose of the change would have been to bypass the censors, they say. The final verse was withdrawn, and I have to wonder whether that was to avoid the attention of the censors. Gail Hart sees the sense in the idea that ‘Freude’ could be a replacement word for ‘Freiheit’, but doubts this interpretation, saying that ‘Freiheit’ doesn’t always fit in. My own thought on this was that ‘Freude’ could also have been used in the verses, but that in the title it could have been a substitute word not for ‘Freiheit’ but for ‘Friede’, which means ‘peace’. Given the similarity of ‘Friede’ to the English word ‘free’, I looked up their etimologies, and quickly found a comment on an etymology web page by an aptly named Morgan Freedman, who put under ‘Freedom’, “This comes from German (literal, modern-day translation, ‘Freiheit’), but is actually closer in derivation to the German word ‘Friede’, which means ‘peace’ and is a word of pre-Christian, Germanic origin (originally ‘Frith’)”. The words ‘Freude’ and ‘Friede’ are often used together in German, and I suspect that any savvy German contemporary would have understood the allusion. Ironically, the motivation for the long-term campaigners for Brexit lay in the increasing concentration of power within the EU, and the drift away from Freedom. The dispensing of the words would have been motivated by a hypocritical policy of all official languages being equal – though of course some languages were more equal than others. There was recently a move to officially give the hymn words in the neutral language Esperanto, but I suspect that if they had done so, those words could now be an embarrassment to the Powers That Be as people become aware of the concentration of power in the EU Commission.
Gail Hart explained: “… Schiller worked for freedom. As a young man he wrested freedom from the jaws of Absolutist dominion when he fled the Duchy of Württemberg and its Duke, who had, on threat of imprisonment, forbidden him to write …”. So the concept of ‘freedom’ which Gail Hart describes was not just the esoteric philosophy behind Schiller’s use of the word, but also the brutal reality of getting around state censorship. Such an interpretation would apply today in ‘the contemporary world crisis’, though perhaps that would not have been so obvious to the author when the essay appeared in the German Studies Review in October 2009. Censorship in England has traditionally been more subtle. George Orwell wrote in an essay, The Freedom of the Press, intended as an Introduction to his novel Animal Farm, but cut out by the publishers, in which he stated:
The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary.
Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news – things which on their own merits would get the big headlines – being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralised, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.
However, since the end of the Cold War there has been a growing attitude of Political Correctness, and in the Cameron-Thatcher era that Political Correctness was increasingly being enforced by marauding mobs, particularly in the streets of London, closing down all sorts of meeting, with menacing facial expressions, and cries of ‘Fascists!’ and other expressions of abuse. Indeed, their tactics were overwhelmingly a matter of name-calling, rather than engaging with the arguments. Increasingly, schoolchildren had to be guarded in what they would say at school, because otherwise they could be subject to a police officer knocking at their door in the evening under the government’s ‘extremism’ legislation. In various countries of Europe one cannot question details of the official version of the massive pogrom which took place under the National Socialists following Kristallnacht, without risking a jail sentence. In the UK one can be hauled up in front of magistrates for the same questioning, if someone claims that they are offended. A former mayor of London was suspended from the Labour Party for mentioning ‘The Transfer Agreement’ between the National Socialists and the Jewish Agency for Israel, a branch of the World Zionist Congress, in 1933, even though one of the main books on the subject was authored by a Zionist Jew. Under lockdown, people could be arrested and subjected to hefty fines for going about their normal business, and expert medical opinion on the ‘pandemic’ cannot be expressed on social media without the risk of being banned. In the UK we are moving closer and closer to government by decree, and to the Stalinist censorship that that entails.
Returning to Beethoven
In May of 2020 another article appeared in a left-wing website, Counterfire. It was headed: ‘Marking the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birthday, Thomas Gibbs paints a picture of someone who loved his art and hated royalty in equal measure’. “Ever a master of himself, the composer didn’t care for royalty”, the article declared, quoting a note to his former friend and patron, prince Karl Lichnowsky, “Prince, what you are, you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am of myself”. “Franz II allegedly refused to have anything to do with Beethoven, on the basis that there was ‘something revolutionary in the music’. And what friendship the composer had with Goethe was ended abruptly in 1812 when, walking together in the park, he disdainfully shunned the passing Empress”, Thomas Gibbs wrote. Beethoven dedicated his third symphony to Napoleon, only to tear up the title page on hearing that Napoleon had declared himself Emperor. I just have to wonder what Beethoven would have thought of the leaders of the Russian Revolution 90 years after his death, or of the current Labour Party in the UK, whose leader is a member of the neoconservative Trilateral Commission.
“This revolutionary spirit inhabits much of his work. … The Beethovenian idée fixe is that of freedom …For many listeners, this sense of struggle comes through the music and is ultimately what makes it so compelling”, he wrote. Certainly it is for me. This is what brought me back to Beethoven, in the ‘Age of Perversion’, as a friend of mine calls it. I remember making the point in the 1970s that the class system in England was withering away, but others disagreed. I now think it is as strong as ever, but disguised. Tony Blair would clip his t’s in order to sound more ordinary (to Londoners), but he still had an aristocratic air about him. He could manipulate people with words, and gain their confidence, virtually abolishing government by Cabinet, and launching a war of agression against Iraq with the support of the Labour Party. Aristocrats used to react by saying “Impertinance!”; now they call you paranoid, or other names. Nowadays, many of us disbelieve much of what we hear from the mainstream media, and some get quite angry. Others say they’ve stopped watching the BBC news. I switched to Channel 4 News in about 2007, but now they seem just as bad as the BBC was in 2007. I need to follow the news in the mainstream to know the latest propaganda, but I now call it ‘Storytime’. I get my relief from turning to the piano. It was with that in mind that a few weeks ago I picked up an old book of Beethoven sonatas that I had struggled with in my youth. In particular, I looked again at the slow movement of his Grand Sonata (number 4, opus 7). I had first heard this around 1960, played on a gramophone record by Walter Gieseking. It sounded to me like modern music, with ideas I’d not encountered before in classical music. Even though I learned to play the notes, I had some difficulty in fully understanding it. But now, in the ‘Age of Perversion’ it made much more sense. I put some notes together and recorded it for some piano friends, and explained in a couple of sentences what I’ve just explained in this essay. Beethoven was advancing ideas of The Enlightenment; now that we are coming to the end of the Age of Enlightenment his music again has a resonance if we understand what much of his music was really about.
I was delighted that they understood the sentiments, and one person commented that many people come back to Beethoven and understand his music better. Only when I turned to the Internet to research the background to that music did I come to the realisation that the following month would be Beethoven’s 250th anniversary.
Music and Language
Thomas Gibbs takes as his prime example the iconic beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. He writes: “The 5th symphony, considered by many to be a watershed moment in this stylistic transition, is brimming with sly references to music of the revolution. In fact, a little detective work leads straight to words written about murdered revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat: ‘We swear, sword in hand, to die for the republic and for human rights’”. Marat was rather extreme, in wanting to kill off the aristocrats who opposed the revolution. I hadn’t been campaigning for political reform: only for checking facts and separating truth and lies, but I get the message.
I once gave a talk at a British Esperanto Congress, shortly before they turned on me for supposedly being “critical of the committee”, in which I took those iconic four notes as an example of the relationship between language and music. The iconic rhythm, with the triplets, as in ‘DI di di DA’, would arrest the listener’s attention, like an urgent knocking with a trungeon on the door. But it’s not what Beethoven wrote. This was an adaptation by Mendelssohn, and I can understand this in the age of Romanticism, as interpreted by a comfortably brought up, but gifted, composer. I can imagine such a beginning being followed up with a dramatic but flowing melody. However, Beethoven puts no special accentuation on the first of those four notes. By default, the theme is ‘di DI di DEE’, and this is the theme he follows up on. Mendelssohn’s interpretation is about waking up the listener, whereas Beethoven’s theme, for me, is about his own inner feelings. It sounds urgent, emotional, and a little breathless. I think we must all have woken up at some time feeling like that, wanting to get something of our chest, perhaps thinking about something from the previous day. I don’t think this is programme music; it just goes through the gammut of emotions that must have been running through Beethoven. Many people must be experiencing something similar during Lockdown, on the realisation that we are now entering the Age of Endarkenment. Perhaps the rhythm ‘di DI di DEE’ should now become the calling signal for the Lockdown Resistance. I had just written these words when I broke off for lunch, switched the radio news on, and within seconds heard someone say, “I can’t calm down”. That’s exactly it, and it’s come to the surface, even amongst the English, as people fail to recognise that in politics, if things don’t make sense, then they’re probably not meant to.
I came across an essay from 2014 in The Historical Journal titled ‘BEETHOVEN AND THE SOUND OF REVOLUTION IN VIENNA, 1792–1814’ by an academic from Cambridge University. On Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony he wrote:
The first four notes of the Fifth achieved their overwhelming effect through ‘a piling up of sonority’ that permeates the entire symphony, embuing it with an obsessive, convulsive, repetitive rhetorical trajectory. Recent scholarship has detected a similar propensity towards repetition, rhythm, even incantation in the oratorical techniques of the revolutionary demagogues. Speeches delivered to the National Assembly were replete with ‘sudden exclamations and incongruous juxtapositions; repeated patterns and formulas; the deployment of sequences of short phrases; and dynamic call and response patterns’. Robespierre’s oratory, according to Patrice Gueniffey, both ‘terrorized and … annihilated’ by deploying doses of ‘suspense and equivocation’ when fingering traitors, and by establishing a cadential monotony when ‘confronting the hostility of the Assembly’. What followed was a deliberate inundation of the senses that resulted in the activation of terror. Hooting, finger-pointing, outright panic: the reactions to this rhetoric in Paris were effusive and public. ‘It was no longer applause’, remarked Jean-Baptiste Louvet, ‘but convulsive stamping’. The effects of the Fifth Symphony – its subversion of all melodic narrative, its obsessive redeployment of the opening rhythmic fragment – are, in many respects, musically congruent with the oratorical techniques of the Revolutionaries.
I think that catches the spirit, but I cannot imagine such music being a parody of anything in the French language; it is so very Germanic. Beethoven’s music did not appeal to the French public until after his death, and I’m not sure when Beethoven would have had an opportunity to hear such French rhetoric. More likely, I think, he would have heard German rhetoric in the same style. But in any case, the above academic rhetoric could only apply to parts of the Fifth Symphony; the second movement consists of a lovely flowing melody, and Beethoven’s music, in a different mood, did lead on to the Romantic era.
Yet a contemporary admirer of Beethoven, the concert pianist Ignaz Moscheles, described the same effects, but in a positive way: “… while I felt my mind fascinated by the prominent idea, and my enthusiasm kindled by the flashes of his genius, his unlooked-for episodes, shrill dissonances, and bold modulations, gave me an unpleasant sensation. But how soon did I become reconciled to them! All that had appeared hard, I soon found indispensable. The gnome-like pleasantries, which at first appeared too distorted—the stormy masses of sound, which I found too chaotic—I have, in after-times, learned to love”. This appeared in the Editor’s Preface to a book ‘The Life of Beethoven’, by Anton Schindler in 1841. Schindler explained Beethoven’s thinking in bringing together his piano sonatas, giving as one consideration, to “define the nature of musical declamation”. “On this last topic”, Schindler wrote, “Beethoven went beyond the generally received idea. He maintained that poetical and musical declamation were subject to the same rules”. I had no knowledge of this when I gave my talk at the Esperanto Congress; I was just trying to demonstrate the same semantic structures in language and music.
The Apostolic Succession
It seems that the idea of Schiller and Beethoven on the brotherhood of mankind permeated through the generations. Ignaz Moscheles’s son, the painter Felix Moscheles, was one of the founders of the Esperanto movement in Great Britain, becoming the first Honorary President of The London Esperanto Club. The great ideal of Esperanto had itself been a product of the Enlightenment. Felix Moscheles was the Godson of Felix Mendelssohn, who advanced the idea of ‘politics of reconciliation’ in the Prussian state in accordance with his grandfather’s ideas on Haskala, the Jewish Enlightenment. A later Honorary President of The London Esperanto Club was concert pianist Frank Merrick, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing in 1976 on the occasion of this 90th birthday. He had been imprisoned as a Conscientious Objector and put into solitary confinement for a while during the First World War. “It was torture”, he told me. He jokingly claimed to be in the ‘apostolic succession’, having been the last pupil of Leschetizky, whose teacher Czerny was a pupil of Beethoven. It seems there’s another apostolic succession, too: one of peace, freedom and the ‘brotherhood of man’ (no offence to women).
So if Beethoven had enemies during his lifetime, could it be that some want Beethoven to be eradicated from history now? The Chicago Tribune on 30 December, 2019, published a commentary: ‘Beethoven was born 250 years ago. To celebrate, how about we ban his music for a year?’. ‘Canceling Beethoven is the latest woke madness for the classical-music world’, ran a headline in the New York Post. Many advocates of truth, freedom, and the ‘brotherhood of mankind’ (no offence to women) have been marginalised. A denigration campaign began following the death of British journalist Robert Fisk, who revealed truths about the current wars that others wouldn’t talk about. The outstanding journalist who brought the Enlightenment to ordinary folk in England with the advent of mass literacy was W T Stead, who introduced the ‘New Journalism’. He upset the Establishment by investigating scandals in high places, and worked incessantly for peace. He told his (false) friend Cecil Rhodes that he should have been put in prison for trying to start the Second Boer War, and when that war did start, led the Stop The War Committee. He anticipated the Great War, and told the Czar of the danger, then wrote an account, ‘Peace and War’, on a visit to Tolstoy at the same desk at which Tolstoy had written ‘War and Peace’. Like Stead, Tolstoy was an ardent campaigner for peace, and an Esperantist. Indeed, it was an article of Tolstoy’s that got the Esperanto magazine banned in Russia for a while. Like Beethoven, Tolstoy was an ardent opponent of aristocratic privelege. He was a keen pianist, and drew inspiration from Beethoven, even if he thought Beethoven’s later compositions too esoteric. As for Stead, the Establishment took their revenge. Stead died in the Titanic tragedy, and his name has been airbrushed out of history. It was my attempt to revive his name for the centenary of the Esperanto association in the UK, for which W T Stead had been the most influential of the founders, that evoked denunciations from within the association. I was so flabbergasted that I decided in 2004 to investigate, and that got me banned in various Esperanto circles. Good people who are a little too successful in advocating peace, freedom and the ‘brotherhood of man’ (no offence to women) are, it turned out, constantly being margenalised. I became another victim, and so I delved further, and found more.
Hijacking European Culture
Fifty years ago Beethoven survived the ravages of Congress for Cultural Freedom, an operation run by the CIA following the Second World War. Its purpose was “to promote an idea: that the world needed a pax Americana, a new age of enlightenment, and it would be called the American Century”, explained British historian Frances Stonor Saunders in her book ‘Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War” (title in US edition: ‘The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters’. “Whether they liked it or not, whether they knew it or not, there were few writers, poets, artists, historians , scientists or critics in post-war Europe whose names were not in some way linked to this covert enterprise. Unchallenged, undetected for over twenty years, America’s spying establishment operated a sophisticated, substantially endowed cultural front in the West for the West, in the name of freedom of expression”, she wrote. On the musical side they organised an International Conference of Twentieth Century Music in Rome in 1954, under the directorship of Nicolas Nabokov, a “White Russian emigre who had lived in Berlin before emigrating to the US in 1933”. Nabokov explained, “… we are going to have a composers’ contest that is unlike any other competition ever held. Twelve young and promising but internationally unknown composers are to be invited to Rome, all expenses paid. Each will bring a score and these will be performed …”.
The festival had a heavy concentration of atonal, dodecaphonic composition, featuring new composers. “For Nabokov, there was a clear political message to be imparted by promoting music which announced itself as doing away with natural hierarchies, as a liberation from previous laws about music’s inner logic. Later, critics would wonder whether serialism had broken its emancipatory promise, driving music into a modernist cul-de-sac, where it sat, restricted and difficult, tyrranized by despotic formulae, and demanding an increasingly specialist audience. Towards its ‘squawks and thumps’, wrote Susan Sontag, ‘we were deferential – we knew we were supposed to appreciate ugly music; …”.
Frances Stonor Saunders reported on an exchange with conductor Pierre Boulez, himself a leading figure in avant-garde music, who “wrote a furious letter, larded with insults”. “Nabokov, he [Pierre Boulez] said, was encouraging a ‘folklore of mediocracy’, nurtured by pretty bureaucrats who were obsessed with the number twelve – ‘A Council of Twelve, a Committee of Twelve, a Jury of Twelve – but who understood nothing of the creative process”, Frances Stonor Saunders wrote. This brought to mind an incident in about 1960, when I submitted some piano pieces to my school music appreciation teacher, who put a red ring round the title, ‘Three pieces in A minor’. “Why has it got to be in any key?”, he asked. I explained to him that otherwise we would be starting off from the Stone Age. I couldn’t understand his enthusiam for twelve-tone music. Of course, you can make some interesting impressionistic sound with twelve tones, as you can with pots and pans, but where was the drive for this movement coming from? Beethoven was driven by having something to say, and in finding new ways of expressing himself; the twelve-tone music was driven, I felt by a destructive force. Now that I understand that it was being propelled by the CIA I can understand much better what was going on around me in a musical sense in that period of my life. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s not supposed to, whereas Beethoven’s music was supposed to make sense, and to many people did, and became more popular in posterity, whereas the twelve-tone-music stayed where it was: in academia.
The attempt to hijack European culture continues to this day, and this is now most evident in the field of journalism, as Udo Ulfkotte elaborated in his book ‘Gekaufte Journalisten: Wie Politiker, Geheimdienst und Hochfinanz Deutchlands Massmedien lenken’, which eventually appeared in English as ‘Presstitutes: Embedded in the Pay of the CIA’. Put simply, Beethoven was not American. Musical tastes vary, but the message that Beethoven was trying to get across should be remembered, because there are now powerful people who would like it to be forgotten. The mad times that Beethoven lived in are returning, and Beethoven’s message is just as relevant today as it was in his time.
I just have to wonder how Beethoven would now be reacting to this Age of Darkness, initiated by the Clamp Down, long awaited in some circles, and about to be set in perpetuity by The Great Reset. Anyone with Enlightenment ideas may well find himself being targeted. If Beethoven were to talk of his political experiences at our London-based Keep Talking group I would not be in the least surprised to find ourselves surrounded by a menacing mob of slogan-shouters, calling him a ‘Fascist’, ‘Antisemitic’, ‘Mysogenist’ etc. much as they have done to previous meetings, and as they have done to concerts by Jewish anti-Zionist jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, and many others. I would just love to know how Beethoven would turn such disruptions into his Tenth Symphony. Perhaps he would have based his slow movement on John Lennon’s Imagine. John Lennon was a musician who was promoting peace and the ‘brotherhood of man’ (no offence to women), and was eliminated just forty years ago. In 1970 we even considered inviting John Lennon to be the Patron of the 1971 Universal Congress of Esperanto in London, having been advised that the Queen would be unlikely to accept. I don’t know how Beethoven would have written his Tenth Symphony, except that he would have done it brilliantly.
The Schiller Institute is circulating a resolution internationally for the Year of Beethoven. The preamble probably describes the situation more as it is in the US than in the UK or Europe, but, as we have seen, what happens in the US will eventually cross the Atlantic. “A degraded picture emerges”, the preamble states, “Our education system hardly conveys any knowledge of classical culture, our so-called youth culture is dominated by a cult of ugliness, and classical culture itself is under massive attack. For decades now, post-war theater companies have invented new abysses of hideousness, productions of Shakespeare or Schiller have become unrecognizable, opera stages have also become battlefields for some time, on which the perverse fantasies of various directors are played out, and now self-styled modern composers are even molesting the compositions of Beethoven, evidently because they are unable to create anything themselves”.
“This must be stopped! The time has come to launch a counter-offensive!”, they proclaim, “The Year of Beethoven, in which many Beethoven compositions will be performed all over the world, offers a wonderful occasion for us to recall the best of our cultural tradition in western culture and to oppose it to the moral downward trend of the past decades”. I signed the petition, and I just hope that the coming performances of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony will begin with the true beat of ‘di DI di DEE’, to drive forward the march for ‘Friede’, ‘Freude’ and ‘Freiheit’, and against cancel culture in the Age of Darkness which is descending upon us.