We’re a cultured group here at Stately Beat Manor, and a lot of that classical culture comes via POP culture. Julius Caesar? Asterix. Classical music? Looney Tunes. The Iliad? Larry Gonick. The Tempest? Sandman.
And Peanuts? Reading Peanuts, we discovered Beethoven. Ludwig van. Charles Schulz was an ardent fan of classical music, letting it play in his studio while he worked on his strips. Most fans know of Schroeder’s ardent fandom for Beethoven, mostly through the piano strips costarring Snoopy and/or Lucy. (Schroeder even made a rare trip outside the United States to Germany!)
But… how did Charles Schulz and Peanuts treat Ludwig van Beethoven? Was it just a cyclical joke, appearing occasionally in December or whenever the inspiration struck? Or was it something more?
Well, thanks to the wonder that is the Internet, there is an online exhibition exploring the geniuses of Charles Schulz and Ludwig van Beethoven! From the introduction:
This web exhibit, developed by The Charles M. Schulz Museum and The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San José State University, sets out to deepen your understanding of Schulz’s Beethoven in new ways. With audio clips, you’ll be able to hear the excerpts of music in the strips and grasp how the music provides new layers of meaning to the comic strip. With video clips, you’ll be able to watch renowned Beethoven performers bring some of the composer’s most important works to life and enjoy scenes from classic Beethoven films. If you’d like to explore some subjects more deeply, click on “Musicology Moments” or “Comic History” links. Historical objects from Beethoven’s life and times from the collections of the Beethoven Center illustrate the subjects of the strips – and allow us to better appreciate Schulz’s own unique genius.
Not only will you discover how Schulz wove the actual works of Beethoven into the strip, you will hear them as well, with short sound files reproducing the actual music reproduced in the comics!
You’ll hear and read about each piece, and how the music adds an extra meaning to the visual punchline. (Including recordings found in Schulz’s studio, and his personal stereo!)
You’ll also learn the tragic biography of Ludwig, some of it mentioned in the actual strips.
I’ve been writing for The Beat since July of 2010.
I’ve been reading comics since 1974, collecting since 1984, and spreading the graphic novel gospel since 1994.
I’m a bookseller, a librarian, an amateur scholar, a cool uncle, and a comics evangelist.
Ask me anything!