Beethoven’s Birthday!

Today is the 250th anniversary of the birth of composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). I’m going to celebrate…and continue work on an upcoming post about Milwaukee’s first musical organization, the Milwaukee Beethoven Society!

Milwaukee Weekly Sentinel February 8, 1843, page 2. Click to open larger image in new window.

Life for early Milwaukee-area settlers was frequently difficult, but often less primitive than we imagine. Among other attributes, Milwaukee has long been a musical place. As early as 1843, the short-lived Milwaukee Beethoven Society brought the first organized concert performances to the neighboring towns that—three years later—would join to become the City of Milwaukee.

1843 was also the year that so many early Mequon immigrants, including Jonathan M. Clark, journeyed to the Milwaukee land office and court house to register and pay for the land they had settled, and obtain their federal land patents. These early Mequon residents knew Milwaukee; it was their center for law, business, shopping, news, and meeting out-of-town visitors. Did Jonathan and Mary Clark make a trip to Milwaukee to hear the Beethoven Society perform? It’s fun to speculate, but we really don’t know.

I’m collecting information on the Beethoven Society’s organizers and their first (and only?) two concerts. In my next post, I aim to gather that information together along with links to online performances of most of the pieces from the first concert so that you can enjoy something like the experience of that debut performance from the comfort of your computer, tablet or phone.

Meanwhile, today is a big day for music lovers. Grab a celebratory beverage (and piece of cake, if you have one1) and enjoy this stirring performance of …

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July 4, 2020

Pulling down the statue of George III by the “Sons of Freedom,” at the Bowling Green, City of New York, July 1776, painted by Johannes A. Oertel, engraved by John C. McRae, New York : Published by Joseph Laing, [ca. 1875]. Library of Congress Click to open larger image in new window.

After a public reading of the Declaration of Independence at Bowling Green, on July 9, 1776, New Yorkers pulled down the statue of King George III. Parts of the statue were reportedly melted down and used for bullets. (Source, Source)

For much of my lifetime, people—including many that should know better—have discoursed at length on whether history is “relevant” in our modern era. I wonder if that is because too many Americans simply don’t know much of their own history. For example, how many Americans today support these political sentiments?:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

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