Margaret Fuller, Beethoven, and Revolution in the Minds of Women

According to nineteenth-century concert-goer and early music critic Margaret Fuller, music born of great genius, like one of Beethoven’s symphonies, enters the mind, “develop[s] the spirit to new consciousness” through universal harmonies. Hearing some of the first ever performances of Beethoven on American shores, Fuller believed music has the power to awaken both body and spirit, and inspire a revolution in the minds of women. Fuller was part of a generation of women who were the most widely educated in music up to that time in United States history: American women had more hands on American-made piano keys than ever before, which marks a major shift away from their Puritan forebears who regarded any music outside of psalmodies and hymns as devilish. What separated her from her female contemporaries were her other accomplishments: Fuller was studying Greek, metaphysics, philosophy, and reading French and Italian literature. With a rigorous education, a right almost exclusively reserved for young boys at the time, Fuller would become an exceptionally accomplished intellectual, and she used her education to host a women-only Conversations series to awaken her peers.

In this Olio, we will listen to musical performances by Groupmuse to both feel and think through what Fuller calls the “rapid transition; the spiral and undulatory movement” of music. Fuller’s erotic experiences listening to Beethoven were crucial to her intellectual and sexual awakening. Likewise, playing music was important to many American women in the nineteenth century who were learning to engage their bodies to take up space and be heard. We will think about how music is linked to an awareness of space, body, and self, and how that awareness translates into self-assertion and even social revolution through conversation, listening, and community organizing. How does music act on the individual and the collective to make one feel a part of something greater?

Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.

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Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.

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Other upcoming Olios

Oct 15

Olio Seminar | Kafka will Ruin Your Life and Make You Laugh About it

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $60

Oct 21

Attraction or Fetish? Exploring Racial Trends in Dating

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Oct 22

The Fear of Leisure

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

Sign Up - $15

Oct 23

Eros: The Geometry of Desire

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Moon Rise Studio

Sign Up - $15

Oct 27

Olio Breakfast Club | Frankenstein: Who is the Monster?

Taught by Patricia Kim
1 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

Sign Up - $15

Oct 30

Olio Workshop | Modern Anxiety and Ancient Healing Arts

Taught by Darryl Aiken-Afam
7:30 p.m. at St John's Episcopal Church

Sign Up - $125

Nov 4

Olio Fiction Workshop | Challenging the Received Boundaries of Genre

Taught by Kat Rejsek
7 p.m. at Little Roy // Flatbush

Sign Up - $175

Nov 15

Do You Have Kids? The Politics of Motherhood

Taught by Ifeoma Ike
7:30 p.m. at The William Vale Hotel

Sign Up - $15

Nov 22


Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

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