Schulz's Beethoven: Schroeder's Muse
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One of Charles Schulz's most endearing characters is Schroeder, whose passion for the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven knows no limits. Schulz's own admiration for Beethoven was surely one catalyst for the hundreds of strips featuring the composer. In 1975 Schulz described his own moment of awakening: "Having been fascinated for several months by Strauss waltzes, I graduated one day to the purchase of Beethoven's Second Symphony, and I remember that this record opened up a whole new world for me."

With these words Schulz expresses the power that helps account for Beethoven's universal popularity. For 200 years his music has retained an uncanny ability to touch our innermost feelings while inviting us on journeys whose destinations we haven't imagined. Beethoven's potential was evident from the start, as we learn from his teacher Christian Neefe, who described the twelve-year-old in print as a "young genius." The child pianist Schroeder, head bowed over his toy piano, has channeled the special power of Beethoven's music to the readers of the Peanuts comic strip since 1951.

This web exhibit, developed by The Charles M. Schulz Museum and The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San José State University, sets out to deepen your understanding of Schulz's Beethoven in new ways. With audio clips, you'll be able to hear the excerpts of music in the strips and grasp how the music provides new layers of meaning to the comic strip. With video clips, you'll be able to watch renowned Beethoven performers bring some of the composer's most important works to life and enjoy scenes from classic Beethoven films. If you'd like to explore some subjects more deeply, click on "Musicology Moments" or "Comic History" links. Historical objects from Beethoven's life and times from the collections of the Beethoven Center illustrate the subjects of the strips - and allow us to better appreciate Schulz's own unique genius.

Photograph by Brian Lanker, Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center.

To listen to the audio files in this website, click on the "Start" button in the bar below. If that doesn't work, try the "Download the file" link.

Jean Schulz's welcome and introduction

Download this file  (right-click or option-click)