Romain Rolland's interpretations of Beethoven and his methodoglical basis
|FRANZ STEINER VERLAG GMBH
|ARCHIV FUR MUSIKWISSENSCHAFT
Between 1927 and his death in 1945, Romain Rolland, the famous French writer and former professor of musicology at the Sorbonne, published extensive commentaries on Beethoven's later life and compositions in which he revealed himself as an unusually noteworthy critic of the prevailing analyses of the composer's works. He reproached leading Beethoven scholars such as Thayer, Riemann, Halm, Schenker, and d'Indy, for possessing insufficient empathy for his hero's music, and he consistently maintained that an analysis divorced from content, limited to formal and structural issues, could do no justice to the music. Rolland's method, which he referred to as an ``interpretation psychologique,'' perceives Beethoven's music through the lens of the composer's biography and psychological disposition. His interpretations are permeated with a creative writer's imaginative embellishments which, after the Second World War, collided with a musicology that in the meantime had distanced itself from such subjective readings-of the sort Arnold Schering, for instance, published contemporaneously with Rolland. While the French author's critical questioning of the musical analyses of his time remains valid, the referential basis for his interpretations testify to the bygone era of the last turn of the century, irrespective of their occasional alluring attractiveness.
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