New Avid Listener essay: Jonathan Godsall, “Listening to Beethoven in and through The King’s Speech”

I’ll admit it: I didn’t watch the Oscars last night. But it seems timely and fitting that this week’s essay–by Jonathan Godsall–is about music in The King’s Speech (2010), which won four Oscars. (And for those keeping score at home, this film was nominated for a total of 8 Oscars.) Godsall investigates in particular how the music of Beethoven (specifically his 7th symphony) is used throughout the movie: it is sometimes intact and sometimes “re-composed.” But why use this music at all? After all, Beethoven did not live during the time of the film’s setting.

Here’s a teaser: “The music of Ludwig van Beethoven has appeared in countless films, from A Clockwork Orange (1979) and Die Hard (1988) to Immortal Beloved (the 1994 Beethoven biopic) and, well, Beethoven (the 1992 not-a-Beethoven-biopic). One of the more intriguing appearances of the composer’s music is in The King’s Speech (2010). The opening part of the second movement (Allegretto) of his Seventh Symphony, composed 1811–1812, non-diegetically scores the film’s climactic sequence, in which—spoiler alert—King George VI overcomes his stammer to deliver a radio broadcast to the nation at the outbreak of World War II. And it works beautifully, reinforcing the King’s progression from a nervous start to a confident, flowing delivery with a parallel musical journey.”

Read the entire essay here. And if you haven’t seen the film, well, now’s your chance.

Stay tuned for a March digest!

The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.

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