Exploring Beethoven’s Scottish Folk Song Arrangements - Demystifying an Enigma

Exploring Beethoven’s Scottish Folk Song Arrangements - Demystifying an Enigma

In 1809, 39-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven was at the pinnacle of his career. As he gained superstar status as Europe’s leading composer, he cultivated an enigmatic presence in the public eye of heroic and mythical proportions. So why, at the very height of his success and popularity, did the composer accept an unremarkable commission to arrange a few dozen Scottish folk songs for voice and piano trio? More curious, what inspired Beethoven to return to the project throughout the next decade, an obsession that culminated in 179 arrangements based on Scottish, Irish, and Welsh folksong and poetry? 

The folksong settings from 1809–1819 was clearly an important project for Beethoven, but questions persist: Why would a composer capable of the technical brilliance and emotional breadth of the Eroica Symphony, Moonlight Sonata, Kreutzer Violin Sonata, and majestic Symphony No. 5 decide to turn his attention to arrangements of popular folksongs?  Was Beethoven consciously making an effort to broaden his creative scope to include popular music? From a contemporary perspective, has Western music been overzealous in its idolatry of Beethoven as a creator of only "masterpieces," and has this heroic image participated in the dismissive reception of lesser-known popular works such as the Scottish folksong arrangements? 

Join Boyer College of Music faculty member Daniel Neer as he explores this often forgotten and frequently misunderstood niche of Beethoven songs, which capture the traditional "highbrow" tenets of 19th-century Viennese classicism with the oft-regarded "lowbrow" aspects of folk music from the British Isles. Joining Daniel will be Boyer College of Music graduate students Mǎdǎlina-Claudia Dǎnilǎ on piano, Alexander Covelli on violin, and Leigh Brown on cello. 

Refreshments will be served.

Our programs are geared toward a general audience and are open to all, including Temple students, faculty, staff, alumni, neighbors, and friends. Registration is encouraged.

Contact rebecca.fulop@temple.edu at rebecca.fulop@temple.edu with questions. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Charles Library Event Space
Main Campus

Registration is required. There are 50 seats available.