A key signifier of freedom in Beethoven’s music is the “blank sign.” This sign assumes various forms. This article traces these blanks both musically and philosophically to explore how they work and what they mean. In particular, it focuses on Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy as a commentator on the composer’s own usage of this sign as a representation of freedom and progress.
Beethoven Going Blank
Before joining Hong Kong University as Head of the School of Humanities, Daniel K. L. Chua, was a fellow and the director of studies at St John’s College, Cambridge, and later professor of music theory and analysis at King’s College London. He was a Henry Fellow at Harvard and is the recipient of the 2004 Royal Musical Association’s Dent Medal. He has written widely on music, from Monteverdi to Stravinsky; his publications include The “Galitzin” Quartets of Beethoven (Princeton, 1994), Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning (Cambridge, 1999), “Rioting With Stravinsky: A Particular Analysis of the Rite of Spring” (2007), “Beethoven’s Other Humanism” (2009), and “Listening to the Self: The Shawshank Redemption and the Technology of Music” (2011).
Daniel K. L. Chua; Beethoven Going Blank. Journal of Musicology 1 July 2014; 31 (3): 299–325. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jm.2014.31.3.299
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