About Me – Beethoven Our Contemporary

Beethoven Our Contemporary


   I am not a musician nor a musicologist. I am a classical music lover who became an amateur scholar by force of circumstances. I am not a native English-speaker either. I was born and lived for some forty years in Romania, under the most oppressive Communist regime of Eastern Europe. Not endowed with any musical gifts, I chose an engineering career, specializing in software, but classical music, especially Beethoven’s music, was my great love. When, in the 1980s, the regime entered the final collapsing phase, I was able to defect and immigrate to the United States with my family. Software engineering helped us make a decent living in the “free world,” and also allowed me to dedicate some time to music beyond simply listening. When settling on the Monterey Peninsula, I joined the American Beethoven Society and discovered the joy of being part of a “brotherhood-in-music” at the Beethoven Center of the San José University. I tried to develop a relationship with William Meredith, the Center’s director, but it was not the professional friendship I hoped for.
   However, quite unexpectedly, Meredith made me an “author” by publishing my personal recollections about “Politicizing Music in Communist Romania” in The Beethoven Journal of the Beethoven Center. Actually, publishing wasn’t my intention: when Meredith told me that he was projecting a book about “Politicizing Beethoven,” I wanted to offer him the insight of an “insider,” and I penned a long letter to him, authorizing him to use it freely. To my surprise, he found the letter itself worth publishing.

I became an “author” under the pseudonym of Stefan Romanó, which I chose, from my ancestry line, to replace my Romanian name with diacritics unpalatable in English (Ştefan Pătruţ, if you are curious).
Two years later, Meredith also made me an “amateur musicologist,” when he published the results of my next endeavor, Ending the Fifth, an article in which I was able to answer a question that had puzzled musicians, scholars and music lovers for two hundred years. You can find my acknowledged credentials in the Intruder in the Temple tab; you can evaluate them and decide to or not to trust my judgement.
As I have always been embarrassed to speak or to write about myself, feel free to skip the remainder of this CV, containing the story of my failed attempts to pursue my newly discovered allegiance, which I am now taking up again on this website.

 It was not the feeling of being a “published author” that pushed me further. I would not have turned into an amateur Beethoven scholar, had I not become acquainted with the Postmodern music literature that I started reading to fill the “gap” in my understanding of music and particularly of Beethoven—an inevitable gap in a Communist country under severe censorship. Maynard Solomon’s biography of Beethoven and his claim to have solved “once and for all” the Immortal Beloved mystery constituted the first incitement to research further, discovering clear-cut facts that invalidate both his portrait of Beethoven and his solution of the mystery.

I felt I had something relevant to say that Beethoven scholarship should hear and I tried to publish it, but I was naïve to think that a “nobody” like me could be accepted into the English- speaking world of Beethoven scholarship. I was an intruder into a musical temple in which only a congregation of self-appointed high-priests were allowed to officiate. William Meredith later denounced it, quoting his old master, Professor Douglass Johnson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as “the Beethoven Mafia,” that is “a self-contained circle of scholars who were the go-to choices for vetting Beethoven articles and books.”* In spite of this quote or, better, because of it, Meredith did not dare publish the paper of an amateur scholar that dismantled Solomon’s sanctified theory that Antonia Brentano was the Immortal Beloved. After this rejection of my take on the Immortal Beloved, Beethoven, the journal of Association Beethoven France et Francophonie, (the French counterpart of The Beethoven’s Journal ) was happy to publish two articles on this issue in 2008 and 2012.

Meredith’s rejection of my Immortal Beloved article proved beneficial: I expanded my research and came to a better understanding of the issue of the Immortal Beloved, a long process that I could pursue only in my spare time, which gradually took the shape of my Immortal Beloved Controversy book accessible on this website.
In the meantime, I came across on more and more Postmodern critiques of Beethoven, which displayed unbelievable lack of professionalism, but nonetheless became mainstream scholarship. I felt again obliged to become a “scholar,” as testified by my Beethoven at 250 book. I tried to make public at least some of my findings, but I hit a wall again: Meredith was not willing to publish anything that would ruffle important scholarly feathers; neither were other prestigious music publications. No amateur, however “professional” he had proved to be, should be free to ruffle the scholarly feathers of the accredited high priests officiating in the Beethoven temple.

* William Meredith, “Introduction” to Edward Walden’s book Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved. Solving the Mystery (Scarecrow Press, 2011), p. XIX and XX.


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