s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 5 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read 10 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
Ooops! You're out of free articles. Starting at just 99 cents per month, you can keep reading all of our products and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?

The late ?Peanuts? creator Charles Schulz had a long love affair with Beethoven. In fact, he listened to his music so much while he worked ? from early piano sonatas to the late string quartets ? that his albums became scratched and worn over time.

Those pitted records are just a few of the unusual artifacts displayed in the exhibit, ?Schulz?s Beethoven: Schroeder?s Muse,? opening Saturday at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa in collaboration with the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University.

The exhibit attempts to show a clear connection between the musical scores Schulz incorporated into some of his ?Peanuts? comic strips featuring Schroeder and the meaning of the cartoon itself.

?We?re trying to argue that the choice of music was intentional,? said William Meredith, director of the Beethoven Center, who co-curated the exhibit with Jane O?Cain of the Schulz Museum. ?If you don?t read music, then you lose a lot of meaning of the strip.?

For the exhibit, O?Cain and Meredith went through about 300 of Schulz?s cartoons that feature the budding young pianist and his muse, Beethoven, and distilled them down to 55. Then they paired the cartoons with an audio track of the works featured in each strip.

?Musicians talk about the fact that they can play the music from the strip,? O?Cain said. ?Now the general public can hear the music from the strip as well.?

There will be about a dozen audio snippets related to specific strips plus entire movements of a few featured works at the end of the taped tour.

The use of sound, through audio wands that visitors hold up to their ears, is a first for the Schulz Museum, which opened six years ago this month.

Along with the musical excerpts, the audio portion of the program includes an introduction by Schulz?s widow, Jeannie Schulz, as well as anecdotes from former Santa Rosa Symphony conductor and pianist Corrick Brown and Schulz?s former secretary Sue Broadwell.

?She talks about how he opened her mind to classical music and encouraged her to take a music appreciation course,? O?Cain said.

Meanwhile, the Beethoven Center, which owns the largest collection of Beethoven materials outside of Europe, contributed more than 30 artifacts to the exhibit.

These include first-edition scores of Beethoven?s works, maps of Vienna from the composer?s lifetime, an original musical sketch, an engraving of the theater in Vienna where the Ninth Symphony premiered, a pastoral silhouette of Beethoven made by Austrian artist Josefine Allmayer and an original letter signed by Beethoven.

The exhibit and its 100-some artifacts are organized around six themes, from Beethoven?s Greatest Hits to Beethoven?s birthday, as celebrated by Schroeder, the obsessive ?Peanuts? character ever hunched over his toy piano.

Schroeder?s endless fascination with all things Beethoven and Schulz?s corresponding love of classical music are overlapping compulsions that the exhibit explores together.

?Schulz had to feel it first, in order to communicate it,? Meredith said. ?The more you see the strips together, the more you see how much Beethoven meant to him.?

Why was Schulz so drawn to Beethoven?

?I think Charles felt there was something for everyone,? Meredith said. ?And if he was going to pick one (composer) for Schroeder to play, Beethoven was the most logical person.?

O?Cain offered up another theory: ?He loved ?B? words, and Beethoven was funnier than Brahms.?

Unrequited love offers another interesting overlap between the ?Peanuts? gang and the composer. Most fans of the comic strip know that Lucy ? supposedly inspired by Schulz?s first wife, Joyce ? pursues Schroeder with a perseverance that is as dogged as she is dense.

?Lucy tries every way that she can to convince Schroeder that he?ll marry her one day, and it?s really water off a duck?s back,? Meredith said. ?Schroeder is as obsessed with Beethoven as Lucy is with him.?

Unrequited love also played a major role in Beethoven?s life. The composer fell in love with several women from the noble class who could not marry him without losing their nobility.

The exhibit also explores the composer?s life and death. That?s where visitors will find a few strands of brown-gray hair from Beethoven?s head, immortalized by Russell Martin in his book, ?Beethoven?s Hair.?

The exhibit explains how Beethoven?s hair has been tested and the theories postulating that his chronic health problems and death were at least partially linked to lead poisoning.

On a lighter note, an 1803 cookbook containing a recipe for one of Beethoven?s favorite dishes, macaroni and cheese, will be displayed. Schulz owned a Beethoven biography with a reference to that dish, and the cartoonist used that tidbit in one of his strips.

?Schroeder is saying his future wife has to make what Beethoven ate,? Meredith said. ?So I went to a lot of trouble to put together a modern version of the recipe.?

For the final theme ? the many faces of Beethoven ? the exhibit will mount a bronze reproduction of the composer?s life mask at the composer?s height, 5 feet 6 inches. According to O?Cain, Beethoven was unable to smile while holding the pose, and the dour images of Beethoven created by subsequent artists can be traced back to this mask.

The exhibit also includes a modern replica of the 1795 Dulcken fortepiano, which was quieter than the modern piano.

?This is the kind of piano that he played when he was a kid, from the time he was Schroeder?s age into his 20s,? Meredith said. ?It?s an all-wood instrument, and that makes a big difference in the sound.?

The exhibit will be on display through January, then travels to the Beethoven Center at the new Martin Luther King Library in San Jose, and open there on May 1, 2009.

?I think people are going to be kind of shocked by how emotional the cumulative effect of the exhibit is,? Meredith said. ?It touches your heart.?