Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Frederick the Great at 300

Today marks the 300th birthday of Prussia's legendary King Frederick II "the Great" (r 1740-86). I celebrated the anniversary at Henk's European Deli in Dallas with visiting German monarchist Reinhold Heuvelmann who is a member of the Bund aufrechte Monarchisten, itself part of the Deutsche Monarchistische Gesellschaft, and will be attending the Monarchieforum in Gotha in September. Rather more elaborate celebrations, of course, were held in Germany which after years of suspicion of anything Prussian or military is allowing itself to commemorate Frederick the Great's tercentennial, albeit not without ambivalence, as the New York Times reports. I myself while admiring his genius have mixed feelings about Frederick's wars, tending to sympathize more with Empress Maria Theresa in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48). But what is more important to me as a musician is Frederick's enthusiasm for and involvement in the arts, which I discussed in a 2002 graduate school paper. Whether the King's flute concerti are considered first-rate compositions or not, can you imagine any prominent contemporary European republican politicians composing a flute concerto? To ask the question is to answer it.

Here Frederick's current heir Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia speaks on the anniversary of his collateral ancestor's birth:

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