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John Clubbe, who holds three degrees from Columbia University, taught chiefly at Duke and the University of Kentucky. He has written books on nineteenth-century cultural history and numerous essays, primarily on Byron, Beethoven, and Napoleon. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he now lives, he has given pre-concert lectures for the Santa Fe Pro Musica and the Santa Fe Symphony.

The Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library are presenting a musical evening for the next Readers Happy Hour on July 20 at the Woman’s Club. Joan Blythe will discuss her husband’s book, Beethoven: The Relentless Revolutionary. Using historical, artistic, and literary sources in new ways, the author John Clubbe, Blythe’s husband, illuminates Beethoven’s political identity, particularly his attitude toward Napoleon. The author vividly brings the entire era to life by setting Beethoven alongside major cultural figures of the period including Goethe, Byron, and Goya. Joan is Professor emerita of the University of Kentucky and has given numerous lectures on Milton, Byron, and Napoleon. Peggy Abbott, a local musician, will play the Menuetto from the Beethoven Sonata Op.10 number 3. She studied piano with Robert Price for 10 years in New York and has a Bachelor of Music from the University of Illinois. In addition to playing solo and duo piano, Peggy has played chamber music including trios, quartets, and quintets with strings and saxophones.

Featured Book


Beethoven imbibed Enlightenment and revolutionary ideas in his hometown of Bonn, where they were fervently discussed in cafés and at the university. Moving to Vienna at the age of twenty-one to study with Haydn, he gained renown as a brilliant pianist and innovative composer. In that conservative city, capital of the Hapsburg empire, authorities were ever watchful to curtail and punish overt displays of radical political views. Nevertheless, Beethoven avidly followed the meteoric rise of Napoleon. As Napoleon had made strides to liberate Europe from aristocratic oppression, so Beethoven desired to liberate humankind through music. He went beyond the musical forms of Haydn and Mozart, notably in the Eroica Symphony and his opera Fidelio, both inspired by the French Revolution and Napoleon. John Clubbe illuminates Beethoven as a lifelong revolutionary through his compositions, portraits, and writings, and by setting him alongside major cultural figures of the time―among them Schiller, Goethe, Byron, Chateaubriand, and Goya. 8 pages of color illustrations