Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities


Beethoven and Goya: FInding a Voice out of Silence

Finding a Voice out of Silence

Beethoven and Goya

It is not possible to know if Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes and Ludwig von Beethoven ever met or knew of the existence of one another. Yet one could conjecture that if a chance meeting were to have occurred, they would have had much to share since their lives intersected in numerous fascinating ways. Though of slightly different generations, Goya and Beethoven died within a month of each other in 1828. Both heralded in the period of Romanticism in art and music, creating works that had never been seen nor heard before. At first producing art and music for a primarily aristocratic audience, their art crossed social boundaries by the end of their careers. Both had political views that were largely shaped during the Napoleonic wars and that informed their work to a far deeper degree than their predecessors. As a result, each created paintings/prints and music that at times could have been interpreted as politically and socially subversive. This years theme, Finding a Voice Out of Silence, will explore the question of "why the arts matter" by looking at the various ways in which both Goya and Beethoven used the arts to overcome personal and political struggles. 


The Directors


Ann Sears is a Professor of Music and the Director of Music in Performance. She holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from The Catholic University of America as well as an M.M. in Piano Performance from Arizona State, and a B.M. from the New England Conservatory of Music, also in Piano Performance.

Evelyn Staudinger is a Professor of Art History and the Jane E. Ruby Chair in Humanities and Social Sciences. She received her Ph.D. from Brown University, as well as a B.A. from Wellesley and an M.A. from Tufts.

The Courses

Professors Staudinger and Sears' courses will explore the lives of Beethoven and Goya. Students enrolled in these courses become fellows of the WIIH and have the opportunity to  attend events associated with the WIIH.

Impossible Monsters: Goya as Painter and Print Maker - Professor Staudinger's course is an in-depth study of the life and work of this great Spanish artist. The class will scrutinize Goya's impact upon modernity and identify how his work evolved as a painstaking criticism of outdated Spanish institutions as well as of Spain’s invasion by Napoleon.

Beethoven - Professor Sears' course explores Beethoven's music in relation to the social and political history of his time. The class aims to study the ways in which Beethoven's musical compositions reflected Beethoven's struggle with the political atmosphere of the nineteenth century.

WIIH Events

Professors Staudinger and Sears have crafted events to go along with their classes, thus giving their students an opportunity to apply the skills learned in the classroom to real world situations. These events will challenge students to think on their feet and use what they have learned to develop practical problem solving skills essential to the professional world. These events will culminate this year's theme.