New York Times on “Schroeder’s Muse”

Charles Schulz's Peanuts

The New York Times runs a long feature on the connection between Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and the music of composer Ludwig van Beethoven, currently the subject of the exhibit Schulz’s Beethoven: Schroeder’s Muse at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California.

When Schroeder pounded on his piano, his eyes clenched in a trance, the notes floating above his head were no random ink spots dropped into the key of G. Schulz carefully chose each snatch of music he drew and transcribed the notes from the score. More than an illustration, the music was a soundtrack to the strip, introducing the characters’ state of emotion, prompting one of them to ask a question or punctuating an interaction.

The piece includes commentary from William Meredith, of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies. Meredith researched music for the exhibit, which is a joint project of the Schulz Museum and the Beethoven Center.

In a strip from 1953 Schroeder embarks on an intensive workout. He does push-ups, jumps rope, lifts weights, touches his toes, does sit-ups (“Puff, Puff”), boxes, runs (“Pant, Pant”) and finally eats (“Chomp! Chomp!”). In the last two panels he walks to his piano with determination and begins playing furiously, sweat springing from his brow. The eighth notes above Schroeder’s head are from the opening bars of Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata (Op. 106), a piece so long, artistically complex and technically difficult that it is referred to as the “Giant” Sonata.

The exhibit features an interactive audio element that allows visitors to hear music associated with strips selected for the show. The Times runs a gallery of photographs from the exhibit.

Schroeder's Muse

Schulz’s Beethoven: Schroeder’s Muse runs through January 26 at the Schulz Museum and reopens May 1 at the Beethoven Center, where it will run through July 31, 2009.

(link via The Comics Reporter)

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