Reconstructing Beethoven: Mauricio Kagel’s Ludwig van

Stavlas, Nikolaos. 2012. Reconstructing Beethoven: Mauricio Kagel’s Ludwig van. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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Abstract or Description

The subject of this dissertation is Ludwig van, Mauricio Kagel’s tribute to Beethoven on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the latter’s birth, which consists of three separate, but closely related, versions: a film, a musical score and a recording. The main aim of this project is to analyse the performance problems that musicians have to face when realising the score Ludwig van, which is an entirely indeterminate collage of Beethoven’s music, and to suggest ways of tackling them. For this purpose, all three versions of the work are studied in this thesis. The film is examined in terms of the issues it raises concerning Beethoven’s reception and of the function of its music, which consists of unusual performances of Beethoven’s works. The score is analysed from the perspective of postmodern theory and 20th-century art movements, while the roles of the composer and the performer are discussed and redefined. The recording is studied as a sample of how Kagel himself chose to realise his own score. Finally, the difficulties I encountered in my own attempts to realise Ludwig van are discussed, and the ways in which I dealt with them are presented. The conclusion at which this dissertation arrives is that, in works of such indeterminacy as Ludwig van, the performers are required to step outside their conventional role and act partly as composers. Compared to works that are considered challenging to the performer in the conventional sense, of requiring technical virtuosity, this work presents a more fundamental challenge, which has to do with overcoming personal boundaries: it asks the performer not to execute a pre-composed work, but to create their own version of Ludwig van. Since very little has been written about Ludwig van by performers with an academic background, this thesis can offer valuable assistance to prospective performers of the work in their attempt to balance between the highly charged conceptual aspect of the composition and the practical need to achieve its successful performance.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


mauricio kagel, ludwig van beethoven, ludwig van: ein bericht, ludwig van: hommage von beethoven, postmodern music, indeterminacy, collage, metacollage, Fluxus, deconstruction, experimental music

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Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2012 17:17

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:33


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