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Beethoven, music and human progress

By Paul Monk, 3 February 2023

Ludwig van Beethoven was a child of that path-breaking epoch. His music – most famously his Third and Ninth Symphonies – are celebrations of human heroism, emancipation and possibility. His Violin Concerto is a jeux d’esprit – a play of the spirit. And all that was true long before any of them could be recorded electronically, much less downloaded onto a phone and listened to while out walking.

This may appear to be stating the obvious, but at a time when so many people – for various reasons – dismiss the very ideas of progress, a scientific worldview, scientific expertise or Western civilisation, it seems to me to be well worth emphasising that all of this arose out of the heroic labours of Western scientists, inventors and creative artists.

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"When I listen to Itzhak Perlman playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, I am tapping into not only the brilliant technological innovations of the 21st century but the whole history of music itself."
Paul Monk

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