Beethoven the European

The Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini of Lucca, in collaboration with Ad Parnassum. A Journal of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Instrumental Music, is pleased to invite submissions of proposals for the symposium «Beethoven the European», to be held in Lucca, Complesso Monumentale di San Micheletto, from 27 to 29 March 2020.

Keynote Speakers:
Barry Cooper (University of Manchester)
William Kinderman (University of California, Los Angeles)

Beethoven’s impact is widely recognised as of seemingly universal, timeless significance; 250 years since his birth his music still communicates with and inspires people across the globe. Nevertheless his iconic, enduring oeuvre stems from a specific European cultural milieu and historical context. To what extent does the tension between the universality and particularity of Beethoven’s music give rise to a richer understanding of his music and its reception history?
Beethoven’s creative inspiration was nurtured in the European context of revolution and political reshaping, at the aesthetic turning-point from Enlightenment to Romanticism, and at the social turning-point from largely private patronage to a more market-orientated environment for composers.

Born in the German Rhineland and resident in Bonn and Vienna, he travelled little compared with contemporaries such as Mozart and Clementi, but his reputation quickly spread much further, to far-off countries such as Britain and Russia. His works attest to strong musical and ideological ties with France and England, and his stage works engage with scenarios in Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands and Greece, while his vocal works include settings in Latin, Italian, French, English and other languages as well as German. Beethoven’s intellectual outlook even extended beyond Europe, especially to Indian sources, reflecting European intellectual currents of his time. Clearly there is still much to discover about the way in which Beethoven’s music was both influenced by and in turn influenced European culture, as well as about the way Beethoven as a European has been perceived and interpreted in a wider context.

Our conference aims to explore the multivalent connections between Beethoven and Europe through multifaceted study of the music both in a European and, where relevant, a wider global multi-cultural context. We would encourage consideration of the theme through the intermingling of and interface between topics and sub-disciplines, text and music, analysis and interpretation, genesis and reception. The programme committee encourages submissions within the following areas, although other topics related to the concept of ‘Beethoven and Europe’ are also welcome:

  • The European as complement or contrast to the Universal nature of Beethoven’s musical and/or personal identity
  • Connections with the forms, styles and influences of particular European countries or cultures
  • Setting of, and interest in texts in different languages
  • Dramatic works and their relation to historical contexts
  • Political attitudes reflected in works or words
  • Beyond Europe’s boundaries: Beethoven and Asia
  • Reception across Europe and in countries related to Europe
  • Historic performance as a means of understanding context, and as a basis for modern performance
  • Innovative analyses, sketch studies and reinterpretation of sources as a way to explore issues of the universal and particular
  • Dispersal of source material across European libraries and collections

Programme Committee:

  • Barry Cooper (University of Manchester)
  • Roberto Illiano (Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini)
  • William Kinderman (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Malcolm Miller (The Open University, UK)
  • Fulvia Morabito (Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini)
  • Massimiliano Sala (Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini)

The official languages of the conference are English and Italian. Papers selected at the conference will be published in a miscellaneous volume.
Papers are limited to twenty minutes in length, allowing time for questions and discussion. Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words and one page of biography.
All proposals should be submitted by email no later than ***Sunday 13 October 2019*** to <>. With your proposal please include your name, contact details (postal address, e-mail and telephone number) and (if applicable) your affiliation.
The committee will make its final decision on the abstracts by the end of October 2019, and contributors will be informed immediately thereafter. Further information about the programme, registration, travel and accommodation will be announced after that date.
For any additional information, please contact:

Dr. Massimiliano Sala


The Melodramatic Moment, 1790-1820

The Melodramatic Moment, 1790-1820
King’s College London, 27-29 March 2014
Supported by King’s College London, the European Research Council, University of Warwick and the AHRC

In the last two decades, melodrama and the melodramatic have been brought to mainstream scholarly attention in an effort to revisit long-standing assumptions about a much-maligned cultural form. A growing number of musicological publications—Emilio Sala’s 1995 L’opera senza canto, Jacqueline Waeber’s 2006 En musique dans le texte and Sarah Hibberd’s 2011 edited collection Melodramatic Voices—have staked the claim for melodrama’s historical importance and lasting influence. Yet the relationship between the melodramatic technique (spoken word over or alternated with instrumental music), melodramatic aesthetic (strong contrast between good and evil, extremes of emotion), and the melodramatic genre (combining the two) has remained both historically and conceptually mysterious.

In this conference, we aim to address these relationships by focussing on the period in which melodrama as a stage genre came to prominence, a period in which several of the key European traditions overlap and coincide. The earlier German, Rousseauian tradition of melodramas produced at court and at Nationaltheaters (most famously represented by Georg Benda’s Medea and Ariadne auf Naxos) continued in the form of performances of older works and the composition of new ones. At the same time, the Napoleonic period saw the emergence of the so-called “popular”, boulevard melodrama in France, often treated as a distinct entity, which was subsequently exported in translation to a number of European theatrical centres as well as to the growing cities of the United States. There were further forms of melodrama practised in this period in the Italian peninsula. Indeed, for some thirty years, melodrama in its various guises was one of the most important stage products across much of Europe. Categorisation by national tradition or division into high and low art forms has often led to the treatment of these different traditions as distinct entities. Yet in this period, the overlap of repertoire in cities and on stages, as well as obvious similarities in content and technique, suggest the fruitfulness of examining these phenomena together.

We invite proposals for papers that engage with this melodramatic moment from all disciplinary perspectives. Particular points of focus include:
• the relationship between high-art and low-art variants of melodrama
• the relationship between melodrama as genre and melodrama as aesthetic
• musical and other adaptations of exported melodramas to new surroundings
• the relationship between music and stage action (gesture, scenery, lighting)
• melodrama’s relationship to broader social and historical conditions
• the relationship between melodrama and romanticism, classicism, and the gothic
• issues of gender and identity in melodramatic performance

As it is envisaged that selected conference papers will be developed into an edited essay collection, we are asking for an abstract of 500-700 words, to be emailed to by Friday 15 November 2013. We aim to review applications as quickly as is reasonable and will notify applicants of our decisions by mid-December at the latest. Those invited to contribute to the symposium will be expected to send a 3000-5000 word draft of their paper for circulation to other delegates prior to the meeting. The meeting itself will include a performance workshop of representative repertoire. The conference language is English.

Katherine Hambridge (Warwick) and Jonathan Hicks (KCL)