#WorldKidLit Wednesday: Beethoven: A Stand for Freedom

From the Beatles’ “Roll Over Beethoven” to Schroeder in “Peanuts,” Ludwig van Beethoven has become a cultural icon.

Beethoven cuts an appealing figure for teens. He was a talented musician who lost his hearing at the height of his fame; a romantic guy who loved a mysterious, unnamed woman but never married her; and a grouchy, often-misunderstood genius who defied societal norms. He kept his rooms a mess and wasn’t too hot about personal hygiene, either.

But did you know that Beethoven was devoted to freedom, so much so that he first dedicated his towering third symphony to the seemingly revolutionary Napoleon—and then crossed out that dedication when Napoleon crowned himself emperor?  And that after Napoleon’s French troops occupied Austria and Beethoven’s patron Prince von Lichnowsky tried to force him to play for visiting officers, Beethoven refused, turning his back on both his patron and close friend for good?

A crossover graphic novel for YA readers, Beethoven: A Stand for Freedom centers on that pivotal moment in the composer’s life. Narrated by Lichnowsky’s son, Eduard, the book fleshes out the episode and then uses it as a lens for showing Beethoven’s life. Along the way, Beethoven… also paints a picture of early 19th century Austria at a critical time when the artist’s role in society—as well as the aristocracy itself—was changing. The back matter includes a wonderful playlist of Beethoven’s works for readers inspired to dive into his music.

With its specific perspective and focus, Beethoven: A Stand for Freedom is an admirable addition to the extensive bibliography about this fascinating, contradictory and much-loved composer.

Beethoven: A Stand for Freedom
Written and Illustrated by Régis Penet
Translated from the French by Montana Kane
ISBN: 9781643379845
2022, Life Drawn

You can find it at a library.

Award-winning opera singer Nanette McGuinness is the translator of over 90 books and graphic novels for children and adults from French, Italian, German and Spanish into English, including the well-known Geronimo Stilton Graphic NovelsTwo of her translationsLuisa: Now and Then and California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas were chosen for YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens; Luisa: Now and Then was also a 2019 Stonewall Honor Book and a GLLI YA Books in Translation Honor Book. Recent translations include Magical History Tour: Slavery; LGBTQ manga Just Friends and Sirius: Twin Stars; The Sisters: My New Big Sister; Alice on the Run: One Child’s Journey Through the Rwandan Civil WarRosa ParksMagical History Tour: First Steps on the MoonTiki: A Very Ruff Year; Makhno: Ukrainian Freedom Fighter; Chloe Green Thumb; and the critically acclaimed A House Without Windows.

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