Uwe Scholz’s Choreographic Conception of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony

Document Type

Book Chapter


Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony has served as inspiration for a number of choreographers. This essay centers on the fascinating choreographic interpretation by German choreographer Uwe Scholz (1958-2004), former director of the Leipzig Ballet. In 1991, Scholz created the Seventh (Siebente Symphonie) for the Stuttgart Ballet and it remains his most popular work today. He was also responsible for the production’s costumes, and based the ballet’s set on a painting of the Unfurled series by American Abstract expressionist Morris Louis. The result is visually stunning in its understated quality, creating a remarkable visual and aural synchronization to Beethoven’s score.

The ballet’s embodiment of the music’s symphonic argument lies at the centre of this analysis. Rather than considering the ballet simply as a translation of the music into another medium, however, this essay proposes modes of analysis that explore the choreo-musical relationships of the two media synergistically. The Seventh is emblematic of Scholz’s vision to allow the movement to amplify visually Beethoven’s music – not by implanting a narrative message but by allowing it to tell us something more about the music itself. I argue that, just as movement is mapped onto the music, so is music also altered because of it. As a result, corporeal movement and visual imagery work synergistically to encode the music with added properties, and suggest hermeneutical pathways about how to perceive the musical score anew.

Publication Date

Spring 3-1-2023

Publication Title

Beethoven the European: Transcultural Contexts of Performance, Interpretation and Reception


Brepols (Belgium)

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