Concerts and Programs

Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards


Beyond Beethoven, 2020–1770
Conference and Concert Festival
September 17–20, 2020

Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, this conference and concert festival explores keyboard culture around the edges of, in the shadows below, on the distant horizon from the monument that is “Beethoven.” To what extent is Beethoven a pole of both attraction and resistance? In a year saturated with Beethoven, how might we both think through and beyond this single composer’s contribution?

The Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards and the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies invite proposals for concerts, lecture-demonstrations and talks that place Beethoven’s music in new historical and contemporary contexts, rethinking questions of influence and impact, production and reception in light of the current state of the discipline. Contributions might approach the topic from angles technological, media-theoretical, economic, global, addressing later 18th-century keyboard culture (Haydn, C. P. E. Bach and precursors), composers and performers in Europe’s urban centers (and rural satellites) around 1800, Beethoven’s contemporaries and students, later 19th-century disciples of Beethoven, 20th- and 21st-century responses to and even rejections of Beethoven, and the global dissemination and transmission of Beethovenian sounds.

Is Beethoven a proverbial “dead duck,” with the decisive swerve within the humanities today away from hermeneutics, authority, and the canon, towards materiality, mediality, and the (re)distribution of “cultural capital”? If not, how might Beethoven be useful in a shifting global political economy, marked by aesthetic fatigue and the institutionally mandated critical intervention surrounding his music? We are particularly interested in papers exploring the construction, reconstruction, or even negation of meaning in the Beethovenian soundscape vis-à-vis changing media environments across the centuries and around the globe.

We especially welcome proposals from younger scholars, and some funding assistance is available for travel to the conference for current students. We encourage performers to design concert programs that may include no more than one work, or set of works, by Beethoven, along with others that critique or shed new light on it. Abstracts of c. 300 words, describing a 25-minute paper, recital or lecture-demonstration, should be sent to by February 1, 2020.

Past Programs

November 22, 2019  Richard Valitutto, piano – Thought and Desire

November 16–17, 2019  Performing Clara Schumann: Keyboard Legacies and Feminine Identities in the Long Romantic Tradition

November 8 and 15, 2019  Mother Mallard 50th Anniversary – The Continuing Story of Counterpoint

November 10, 2019  Ensemble X– minimalist masterworks for two keyboards

November 5, 2019  Anna Steppler, organ – Remember, remember

November 3, 2019  Laura Strickling, soprano and Xak Bjerken, piano – French art songs

October 20, 2019  Xak Bjerken, piano – Beethoven, Ravel, Bartók, Kurtág, and Crumb

October 3-5, 2019 Mike Lee, Wayne Lee, and Clancy Newman – Haydn trios residency

September 21, 2019  David Yearsley, organ – Transalpine

September 6–7, 2019  New Meets Old: Collaborative Confrontations

January 2019  Fugitive Resonance: The Piano in the Early 20th Century

[The following in partnership with the Westfield Center and a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation:]

September 2018  The Organ in the Global Baroque

November 2017  David Catalunya: Instruments of Theory

May 2017  Ghosts in the Machine

February 2017  Four-hand Keyboarding in the Long 19th Century

March 2016  Keyboard Networks

October 2015  {Re}Hearing Scriabin in the 21st Century

August 2015  Forte/Piano

March 2015  Environs Messiaen

October 2014

May 2013

March 2011