“In her brilliant account of classical music in the twenty-first century, Yang avoids the too-common pronouncements of its demise or defensive sermons mounted on its behalf. She offers instead a series of case studies demonstrating how this music in fact permeates contemporary culture, though often in ways that would seem alien to its traditional advocates. This is an exceedingly timely book.”—Susan McClary, Case Western Reserve University
“This book raises the level of discourse on the state of classical music today. It helps us move beyond anecdotes and knee-jerk reactions and get at understanding what is actually happening.”—Eric Hung, Westminster Choir College of Rider University
In Planet Beethoven, Mina Yang makes the compelling case that classical music in the twenty-first century is just as vibrant and relevant as ever—but with significant changes that give us insight into the major cultural shifts of our day. Perusing events, projects, programs, writings, musicians, and compositions, Yang shines a spotlight on the Western art music tradition. The book covers an array of topics, from the use of Beethoven’s “Für Elise” in YouTube clips and hip-hop, to the marketing claims of Baby Einstein products, and the new forms of music education introduced by Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. While the book is global in its outlook, each chapter investigates the unique attributes of a specific performer, performance, or event. One chapter reflects on Chinese pianist Yuja Wang’s controversial performance at the Hollywood Bowl, another explores the highly symbolic Passion 2000 Project in Stuttgart, Germany. Sure to be of interest to students, professionals, and aficionados, Planet Beethoven traces the tensions that arise from the “classical” nature of this tradition and our rapidly changing world.