Aspen Music Festival And School

Deep Focus: Enriching the Aspen Experience

An array of micro-essays by accomplished musicologists, curated to enhance and enrich your historical and aesthetic engagement with the musical programming offered at Aspen’s 2021 Season. 

Beethoven and the Launching of an Idea


The greatest force for reshaping American attitudes toward music was that of one composer—Ludwig van Beethoven—and one genre in particular, his symphonies...classical music, and especially symphony orchestra, still enjoy a prestige born of the first American performances of Beethoven symphonies in the 1840s.

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Finding George Bridgetower: The Violinist Behind Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata


Long a staple of the solo violin repertoire, Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata in A Major (Opus 47) has played an outsized role in American cultural history, but not for the reasons we might think. Beethoven collaborated on the piece with George Polgreen Bridgetower (1778–1860), a violin virtuoso whose capabilities impressed Beethoven enough that he later recommended him to others and called the piece “Sonata mulattica” to acknowledge Bridgetower’s African ancestry.

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The Lifelong Suffering of a Genius: Beethoven’s Personal Struggle


We often hear about early trauma and its impact psychologically. While many are able to successfully counter the devastating effects of trauma through regular counseling and other professional resources, for others, it can remain a continual struggle. In Ludwig van Beethoven’s case, his very harsh beginning continued to impact his sense of self and personal relationships for his entire life.

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Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO