Was Beethoven black?

"Beethoven was black! Why the radical idea still has power today." (Guardian 2020)
Little Ludwig
on Philip Clark, Journalist from the Guardian

Guardian Sep. 2020

„Exactly 80 years after Beethoven’s death, in 1907, the British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor began speculating that Beethoven was black. Colderidge-Taylor was mixed race – with a white English mother and a Sierra Leonean father – and said that he couldn’t help noticing remarkable likenesses between his own facial features and images of Beethoven’s. Having recently returned from the segregated US, Coleridge-Taylor projected his experiences there onto the German composer. “If the greatest of all musicians were alive today, he would find it impossible to obtain hotel accommodation in certain American cities.”…

Guardian 2020

„His words would prove prophetic. During the 1960s, the mantra “Beethoven was black” became part of the struggle for civil rights. By then Coleridge-Taylor had been dead for 50 years and was all but forgotten, but as campaigner Stokely Carmichael raged against the deeply ingrained assumption that white European culture was inherently superior to black culture, the baton was passed. “Beethoven was as black as you and I,” he told a mainly black audience in Seattle, “but they don’t tell us that.” A few years earlier, Malcolm X had given voice to that same idea when he told an interviewer that Beethoven’s father had been “one of the blackamoors that hired themselves out in Europe as professional soldiers”….

(Phil Clark, Guardian) 

Anton Schindler and alternative facts

In 1822 Anton Schindler appeared for the first time in Beethoven’s circle of acquaintances. Schindler sought Beethoven’s closeness and served him as a factotum. Schindler wrote the earliest Beethoven biography, but the credibility of many of his statements is doubtful, as he did not shy away from forgery in support of his claims. After Beethoven’s death, Schindler brought important documents from Beethovens’s estate into his own possession.

(Kim Müller)

Where does the term alternative facts come from?

„Alternative facts“ was a phrase used by U.S. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway during an interview on January 22, 2017. In this interview she defended White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s false statement about the attendance numbers of Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States.

Task 5: Alternative Facts 2020

2020 the year where Beethoven’s birthday is celebrated for the 250th time  the world is shaken by the Corona virus. Among other things, the following information on a vaccine against the virus was shared on social media. Research and find out if these are „alternative facts“.

Check your answer with the platform:




Beethoven Poster „Was he black“ Beethoven Museum, Probusgasse 12.08.2020 Werner Holzheu

Beethoven Portrait, Blasius Höfel, Wikimedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beethoven_Höfel.jpg, 14.12.2020

Anton Schindler 1st Beethoven Biograph: Wikimedia https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Der_Musikschriftsteller_Anton_Schindler_bei_Mondschein_an_seinem_Schreibtisch_sitzend,_neben_ihm_die_Büste_seines_angeblichen_Freundes_Ludwig_van_Beethoven_(SM_54434d).png