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The Beethoven Syndrome – Hearing Music as Autobiography - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Beethoven Syndrome: Hearing Music as Autobiography

Mark Evan Bonds


The “Beethoven syndrome” is the inclination of listeners to hear music as the projection of a composer’s inner self. Beethoven’s music was a catalyst for this change, but only in retrospect, for it was not until after his death that listeners began to hear composers in general—not just Beethoven—in their works, particularly in their instrumental music. The Beethoven Syndrome: Hearing Music as Autobiography traces the rise, fall, and persistence of this mode of listening from the middle of the eighteenth century to the present. Prior to 1830, composers and audiences alike operated within a fram ... More

Keywords: Ludwig van Beethoven, Musical expression, Objectivity, Subjectivity, History of listening, The Beethoven Syndrome

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2020 Print ISBN-13: 9780190068479
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2020 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190068479.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Mark Evan Bonds, author
Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Music, University of North Carolina