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Research Proposal

Leah Zelson

The topic I am focusing on is the lasting impression made in music from the
Romantic Period (1800-1900), focusing especially on Beethovens lasting influence.
Many of my favorite pieces and symphonies come from the Romantic Period, and in
the past I have played Beethoven and Chopin, two Romantic composers on piano.
Last year I learned the first and some of the second movement of Beethovens most
well known piano sonata: Pathetique. I am currently learning Prelude in Ab Major
by Chopin, which is a very romantic piece. Classical music is my favorite genre to
listen to. I have a collection of CDs and listen to the classical station whenever I can.
Last year, I got really into Beethovens music. I like to think that I have a
comprehensive knowledge of his symphonies and sonatas.
I know a few things about Beethovens life: his father was an alcoholic, and
most likely abused him. Beethoven was not Mozart that is, he was not a child
prodigy. But through practice he became well known as a piano virtuoso. Beethoven
became deaf later in his life, but continued to compose and conduct. He was an
unhappy person who suffered from chronic pain, and he contemplated suicide many
times throughout his life. Music was his saving grace.
There are so many composers that I would love to do research on, but I want
to focus on Beethoven mainly because of his widespread popularity with those who
do not listen to classical music. If I were to ask anyone to name three classical
composers they know, Beethovens name would most likely be among the top three.
I want to explore this phenomenon. What makes a piece of music last for
generations? Why are certain melodies, such as the theme in Beethovens 5

symphony, still so recognizable? What makes something classic and who labels
pieces of music as such? How did Beethoven start the Romantic Period what made
him break from the civilized nature of the classical period characterized by
composers such as Mozart and Bach, and run free with musical emotion? What kind
of influence does music from the Romantic Period have on music history since and
modern music? Is there a connection to pop music at all? Is there something going
on neurologically that makes us like and remember themes from Beethovens
I already got two books on Beethovens life from the library, but I need to
scan these books at least by next week and pick out the important information that
will somehow lead me to answer the above questions. I also need to find books
about the Romantic Period, because I need to research this time period in greater
depth. I really want to understand the switch from the formal, civilized music to
music that was emotional something that Beethoven is credited for. I also want to
study the historical events associated with this time period and the possible
influence they had on music history. Basically, I want to find out as much as I can
about Beethoven and the Romantic Period to greater understand modern music.

A Newspaper Article found in the library database that may be helpful:


Preece, Stephen. "Viel Lifted on the Mysteries of Beethoven."
Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo, ON, 01 Nov. 2010. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.