Think some things are so beloved and essential to Western civilization they can’t be canceled? Think again.
If there’s anything we should have learned from months of “mostly peaceful” Black Lives Matter street protests, statue toppling and online mobs seeking to silence anyone who dissents against leftist narratives about “racism,” it’s that no one, living or dead, is safe from the attentions of woke fascists. Even Ludwig van Beethoven.
Beethoven’s work is not only at the core of the standard repertory of classical music; some of his most popular works have also become part of popular culture, their melodies recognizable even to those who’ve never heard an orchestral concert.
For the last 200 years, Beethoven’s compositions have also been symbols of the struggle for freedom against tyranny. The “Ode to Joy” from the conclusion to his Ninth Symphony remains the definitive anthem of universal brotherhood. It is no coincidence that the opening notes of his Fifth Symphony — whose rhythmic pattern duplicates the Morse Code notation for the letter “V” as in “V for Victory” — were used by the BBC for broadcasts to occupied Europe during the Second World War.
But to woke critics, Beethoven’s music has taken on a new, darker meaning. To musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding, stars of the “Switched on Pop” podcast produced in association with the New York Philharmonic, the Fifth Symphony is a stand-in for everything they don’t like about classical music and Western culture. As far as they’re concerned, it’s time to cancel Ludwig.
On Vox.com, the pair blame Beethoven’s music for what they consider to be a stuffy elitist classical culture that bolsters the rule of white males and suppresses the voices of women, blacks and the LGBTQ community.
Beethoven’s music was so profound and different that it did begin the trend of adopting rules of behavior at concerts, like being quiet during performances and holding applause until the conclusion. But the idea that such music is the “soundtrack” for “white privilege” and oppression is imposing a contemporary woke narrative on Beethoven that has nothing to do with his music or the way it’s performed