Beethoven at 250 Why does Beethoven's music matter today? Ask Wake Forest music professor David Levy.

Music professor David Levy has been preparing for this party. It's not every day that the figure at the heart of your 44-year career reaches the ripe old age of 250. This year the world is celebrating the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), the creative genius whose music has inspired and enriched lives for more than two centuries. Few have revolutionized the way music sounds and what it can mean more than he did. And Wake Forest University, along with the city of Winston-Salem, is ready to celebrate in style.

Oxford Philharmonic in concert at Sheldonian Theatre, from Levy's 2020 trip.

Levy, author of “Beethoven: The Ninth Symphony,” has been on the road, dotting the globe as he shares his enthusiasm for and knowledge about Beethoven in England, Germany, and throughout the US. He is also hard at work on his magnum opus – a career-capping book a book covering all nine of Beethoven's monumental symphonies.

Levy at Keble College Dining Hall on his travels. (You may recognize it from Harry Potter.)

Ultimately, it's not only Beethoven's sublime music but also his visionary political worldview that captivates and inspires today.

"As we consider the events of the early 21st century, we have witnessed tremendous advances in technology and global communication. At the same time we have also witnessed a fear-infused rise in political and national tribalism that has engendered calls for “Brexit” and building walls that separate us from each other. This trend is light years removed from the universal embrace of brotherhood and joy embodied in Beethoven’s setting of Friedrich Schiller’s 'Ode to Joy' in the finale of his Ninth Symphony." -David Levy
Beethoven Birth House (Museum) in Bonn, Germany, from Levy's 2020 trip.
"What has gone wrong? How can we recover the Enlightenment ideals enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution? Beethoven’s music connects us with everything that makes us human. We ought, 250 years after his birth, to rediscover Beethoven’s music so that it can touch us in the spirit in which it was conceived.” -David Levy

To inspire the rediscovery of Beethoven's music and ideals, Levy enlisted support from the local music scene. Contacting friends at the Winston-Salem Symphony and Piedmont Opera, he helped launch "BTHVN ROCKS W-S," a year-long series of Beethoven-related events, kicked off to great fanfare in January. Already begun, the series will include more than 50 events from 30 arts organizations, including Wake Forest University.

This week the Elias Quartet begins an epic traversal of all of Beethoven's 16 string quartets in a series of six concerts--three this week, and three more in October. Learn more and get tickets here.

Read more about BTHVN ROCKS W-S.

Read more about David Levy's travels and research.

Created By
Steve Morrison


Photos by Ken Bennett and David Levy. Photo collage by Steve Morrison.