CFP: “Beethoven & Court Musicians in Germany, Bonn, Dez. 14

Call for Papers
Conference “Beethoven and the Last Generation of Court Musicians in Germany”

Location: Beethoven-Haus Bonn
Date: December 4-7, 2015
Hosts: Beethoven-Haus Bonn (Dir. Malte Boecker, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Appel); FWF Project “The Operatic Library of Elector Maximilian Franz”, University of Vienna (Prof. Dr. Birgit Lodes, Dr. John Wilson, Mag. Elisabeth Reisinger)
Conference Languages: English, German

The theme of this conference is the “Beethoven generation” of court musicians from German- speaking Europe (timeframe c. 1780-1820), whose careers can be viewed from a wide range of perspectives and disciplinary approaches. Earlier in the 18th century, the court was the primary place of employment and education for most musicians, and indeed Beethoven and many of his contemporaries were raised, educated, and socialized in this system.

The French Revolution, and subsequent political reorganization of the continent, caused a massive disruption to this order; some courts were completely dissolved, others consolidated, and still others remained under new organization. This created both opportunities and challenges for musicians of this generation. Whether it involved a reliance on court patronage, gifts from the nobility, freelancing, or a balance of all three, the nature of a musical career changed dramatically.

A central focus will be the electoral court in Bonn until 1794 and its musical repertory (especially opera) and all of the experiences and expectations that formed the worldviews of those working in the musical and theatrical establishment, how their careers were impacted by the dissolution/restructuring of this system, and how all of this affected music-making and musical thought around 1800. Especially welcome in this context would be contributions concentrating on musical and theatrical life also in other German courts during this period as well as papers that deal with institutional history from a trans-regional perspective.

Further possible themes concern aspects of social and cultural history throughout this time period. For instance, papers could deal with the situation around 1780 and the question of networks between employers/patrons, musicians, theatrical troupes, and other movers-and- shakers of musical life. The music they played was also seemingly serviced by similar axes of influence that included official music libraries at court, copyists, aristocratic enthusiasts who made their private collections available for court performances, and the rising commercial music handlers and publishers such as Nikolaus Simrock or Artaria – but how did these actually function?

The ensuing decades would witness both continuity and radical change in these complex configurations. An increasing internationalization in both the activities of musicians and troupes and the repertoire itself would have consequences not only for the history of the institutions involved and the individual actors’ biographies, but the musical style as well.
This “last generation” of court musicians, for whom little was stable during their lifetimes, would itself preside over a sea change in how music was written, financed, performed, discussed, and finally heard and understood by audiences. Above all, this conference promises to explore the roots and first flowerings of this change.

The keynote lecture will be delivered by Mark Evan Bonds (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Deadline for proposals: November 5, 2014 Abstract length: max. 250 words

Length of papers: 30 minutes

Please send all proposals as Word or PDF file to: