The political implications of Beethoven's music in China, 1949–1959: an examination of the publication and performance of Beethoven's music

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: One of the standard practices of Communist Parties around the world is to employ art, including music, as a channel to spread political ideologies. This study aims to scrutinize the reception of Beethoven's music, particularly from a political viewpoint, by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the People's Republic of China (PRC) during the early years of its rule, i.e. from 1949–1959. The ambiguity of Beethoven's own political outlook may have provided an opportunity for the CCP to choose the composer and his music in support of its aims.

Design/methodology/approach: To understand why and how the CCP could exploit Beethoven and his music to support its political ideologies, a series of Chinese writings on Beethoven between 1949 and 1959 have been studied. Those literatures not only helped the composer gain reputation and popularity in the PRC, but also provided a platform for the CCP to manipulate such candidate and his music. Finally, the reception of the performances of the Ninth Symphony in 1959 in the PRC is singled out for close examination.

Findings: During the first ten years of the establishment of the PRC, the quantity and quality of the articles on Beethoven expanded considerably. These writings continued to reflect the reception of Beethoven and his music with the addition of political nuances that could be interpreted in the CCP's favour.

Originality/value: This paper seeks to examine the PRC's artistic policies, with a particular emphasis on the reception of Beethoven and western classical music.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-524
Number of pages10
JournalAsian Education and Development Studies
Volume10
Issue number4
Early online date28 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes

User-Defined Keywords

  • Beethoven
  • Beethoven in China
  • Music propaganda in the PRC
  • Western classical music as propaganda
  • Western classical music in China

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