Black As Beethoven…

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Beethoven: Revealing His True Identity

 In the 15th and 16th century, written history underwent a massive campaign of misinformation and deception. With the European slave trade in full swing, Afrikans were transported to various parts of the world and were stripped of every aspect of their humanity, and in most of western civilization, were no longer considered human. This triggered a wholesale interpretation of history that methodically excluded Afrikans from any respectful mention, other than a legacy of slavery. This can result in being taught, or socialized, from one perspective. In this instance, historical information tends to flow strictly from a European perspective. No judgment of right or wrong is being made here, only that the breadth was very narrow in scope.

In an age where history is seriously being rewritten, new information is coming forth that is shocking intellectual sensitivities. What was once considered written in stone is now melting away with the discovery of facts that heretofore have been hidden or omitted; things so different that they are generally classified as controversial or unusual.

What specifically is being referenced, is the true identity of Ludwig van Beethoven, considered Europe’s greatest classical music composer. Directly, Beethoven was a black man. Specifically, his mother was a Moor, that group of Muslim Africans who conquered parts of Europe–making Spain their capital–for some 800 years.

In order to make such a substantial statement, presentation of verifiable evidence is compulsory. Let’s start with what some of Beethoven’s contemporaries and biographers say about his appearance. Frau Fisher, a close friend of Beethoven, described him with “blackish-brown complexion.” Frederick Hertz, German anthropologist, used these terms to describe him: “Negroid traits, dark skin, flat, thick nose.”

Emil Ludwig, in his book “Beethoven,” says: “His face reveals no trace of the German. He was so dark that people dubbed him Spagnol [dark-skinned].” Fanny Giannatasio del Rio, in her book “An Unrequited Love: An Episode in the Life of Beethoven,” wrote “His somewhat flat broad nose and rather wide mouth, his small piercing eyes and swarthy [dark] complexion, pockmarked into the bargain, gave him a strong resemblance to a mulatto.” C. Czerny stated, “His beard–he had not shaved for several days–made the lower part of his already brown face still darker.”

 Following are one word descriptions of Beethoven from various writers: Grillparzer, “dark”; Bettina von Armin, “brown”; Schindler, “red and brown”; Rellstab, “brownish”; Gelinek, “short, dark.”

Newsweek, in its Sept. 23, 1991 issue stated, “Afrocentrism ranges over the whole panorama of human history, coloring in the faces: from Australopithecus to the inventors of mathematics to the great Negro composer Beethoven.”

Of course, in the world of scholarship there are those who take an opposite view. In the book The Changing Image of Beethoven by Alessandra Comini, an array of arguments are presented. Donald W. MacArdle, in a 1949 Musical Quarterly article came to the conclusion that there was “no Spanish, no Belgian, no Dutch, no African” in Beethoven’s genealogy. Dominque-Rene de Lerma, the great musical bibliologist, came to the same conclusion.

Included in this amazing discussion is a reference made of Beethoven’s teacher, Andre de Hevesy, in his book, Beethoven The Man. “Everyone knows the incident at Kismarton, or Eisenstadt, the residence of Prince Esterhazy, on his birthday. In the middle of the first allegro of Haydn’s symphony, His Highness asked the name of the author. He was brought forward.

“‘What!’ exclaimed the Prince, ‘the music is by the blackamoor (a black Moor). Well, my fine blackamoor, henceforth thou art in my service.’

“‘What is thy name?’

“‘Joseph Haydn.’”

We have all been fed false information for reasons previously mentioned. It is no secret that scholars, writers, critics, advertisers and Hollywood have changed history for their own specific reasons. What is uniquely different in the intellectual landscape, people of color now have an army of sophisticated scholars to combat the continuation and dissemination of false information that has been accepted as standard, as well as the canon in academia.

It is hoped that the revealing of this information will motivate others to critically look at all data flowing in their brains for authenticity. Hollywood is notorious for changing facts. I am not saying to hate Hollywood, but we do have to hold it accountable for disseminating inaccurate depictions, especially when it changes the course of history, by which our children are influenced.

Graphic credits:

1.) Louis Letronne, Beethoven, 1814, pencil drawing.

2.) Blasius Hofel, Beethoven, 1814, monochrome facsimile of engraving after a pencil drawing by Louis Letronne.

3.) Engraving by Blasius Hofel, Beethoven, 1814, color facsimile of engraving after a pencil drawing by Louis Letronne. This engraving was regarded in Beethoven’s circle as particularly lifelike. Beethoven himself thought highly of it, and gave several copies to his friends.

Kwaku Person-Lynn


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12 thoughts on “Black As Beethoven…”

  1. This is a great article indeed. I mentioned that fact in a graduate class back in 1993. It was at an Ivy League institution and folks were really uppity. They were really into keeping or maintaining the status quo. And you know folks of color particularly blacks of African descent were seen as innately inferior with lower IQ etcetera. I of course was shocked when the only other student in the class, a black woman from Guyana who had migrated to the US as a young child practically attacked me when I said that Beethoven was a black man. She of course had been fed all the lies and bought them lock stock and barrel and viewed folks like me who believed in the truth as raving lunatic Afrocentrics. Here we are. Even some professional Afrocentrics would have insisted as she did so as to let white folks have the upper hand in order for them to advance.
    I personally prefer the truth so we don’t get confuse. And I completely believe that the truth will set InI free.
    Keep writing these nuggets of truth so we can re-create the entire circle of life.
    I love his music and all the pictures that I have seen have portrayed him as a straight up white man.

  2. while having a dispute with a white guy one day,I asserted,”the ancient egyptians were black.” That’s debatable,” he retorted,” where is the proof to support your assertion?” determined to prove my point , I picked up my book that had cataloged pictures of pharaohs. I thumbed though the pages, and pointed to one of the pictures.” ” Look at the nose of that pharaoh, it’s certainly not a white mans nose,” i said. ” That picture doesn’t prove anything, he said smugly. “Why, the pharaoh does,t even have a nose.” I thumbed though the book and pointed to another picture.” well, take a look at this pharaoh, I said.” That pharaoh does,t have a nose either,” he said. I thumbed though the book and pointed to another picture. “ok, take a look at this pharaoh,”I said. “Ha,ha,ha,this pharaoh does,t have a nose either,”he said with a sly grin. Well after a hour of pointing out pictures, and receiving the same reply, I about to give up ; when suddenly he snatched the book from me, and thumbed though the pages. ” Take a look at this pharaoh ,” he said proudly, as he pointed to the mummy of Rameses the 2nd. “Notice how well it’s fine features are preserved.Why,it even has a cute little lock of blond , still intact after all these century- And please, do see his nose , see how it’s sooooo keen and arch like .” -” That’s a blatant and outrageous fabrication , I interrupted. ” How can you make such a baseless accusation , he asked with indignation. ” because we both already proven that : THE PHARAOH AIN”T GOT NO NOSES ,” I said with a sly grin.

  3. Very interesting articles.It is very important that our lost younger generation is aware of the great heritage they have and to know that Black history does not start from western slavery

  4. i heard about it on public radio back in 2002 when i was still living in LA. now i’ve been researching about it on the web and there’s alot debate going on. violent reactions coming from whites have a very condescending tone. they accuse those who say beethoven’s race was being used as a political issue, but isn’t race a political issue already being started by these euro chauvinists? i love beethoven’s music whether he was black or white. these academic racists really have some serious problems.

  5. I agree with rebel but really does it matter what he was??? if he is black white asian..watever we should just appreciate the joy he has brought to us through his beautiful music,however yes it is wrong they failed to include his true herritage,but the point is he is a remarkable intelligent indivisual and we should just respect his presence,and leave him in peace….

  6. The first time I heard of Beethoven being black I was in grad school. My black professor mentioned it briefly.I later mentioned it to my 5th grade social studies students, explaining that he wrote some of his greatest works after he had gone def. One of them responded, “Oh, he had to have been a brother in order to feel the music.”

    1. Wow LJ that is a really fascinating history you have there. Hope you are still visiting this site. If you see this you should look up the history of David Reubeny who was from Sephardic Jew in Europe whose family was from Khaibar near Medina in Arabia. They claimed he was very short and dark skinned. Do you know of him. The Jews of Khaibar were called small and black by Ludovigo Bartema as well as late as the 16th century.

  7. I now of the black Hebrews from Spain. My Jewish family was forced to leave Spain, beginning in 1492. We have been here in the New Mexico to Tucson area seance and we have always keeped our family history. We are even noted in the Library of Congress, as one of the first ten families to settle in the New Mexico areas. Or last name derives from the twelve tribes of Israel, Reuben/Ruwbniy family the first son of Israel. The black Hebrew began in the Americas around 1492 and earlier. I am black.

  8. I studied Jazz Phenomenology in college under renowned Jazz Pianist, Musician of the Year, Cecil Taylor. That is the same award Leonard Bernstein received, i.e. Musician of the Year. Cecil is noted for his innovations on chord structure (chord clusters). Cecil taught us that in Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, he simply took typical African drum rhythms and orchestrated them for some 35 voices.

  9. Isn’t it strange how Hollywood becomes “Hollyweird”when conservatives accuse it
    of being liberal yet when it perpetuates lies,coverups,distortions,etc.they don’t notice those efforts?J.A.Rogers gave sources who acknowledged the Black African features
    of Beethoven which schoolbooks and movies refuse to show.

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