Document Type



July 2010


Beethoven, collective identity, cultural memory, J¨org Haider, music and language, national and cultural aspirations


German Literature


The article explores how Richard Wagner’s Beethoven and Elfriede Jelinek’s Das Lebewohl draw on music and musical aesthetics to signify national and cultural aspirations in Germany and Austria. As an artistic experience that transcends borders, Beethoven’s music has often provoked questions about cultural memory, “national art forms,” and collective identity in nineteenth- and twentieth-century German intellectual history. Though very different in nature, Wagner’s politically charged Beethoven and the monolog that Jelinek ascribes to the right-wing Austrian politician J¨org Haider show how important music and language can be when national goals and cultural politics join forces.

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