Study Abroad Gave Bill a Lifetime of Music and Beethoven

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IES Abroad
August 7, 2023
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Alumni and Music Professor at UCLA

William Kinderman studied abroad with IES Abroad Vienna from 1973-74 which pushed him to go beyond his passion for music performance. After performing where Ludwig Van Beethoven himself played, he followed his passion for music and Beethoven and is now a Music and Performance Studies Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. William has authored several books on music and composers, including the works of Beethoven.

IES Abroad: You discovered a passion for piano performance while at Dickinson College, and you took a chance applying for entry into one of the top music schools in Vienna.  What did you learn about musicology and piano performance as a student in Vienna?

William (Bill) Kinderman (BK): My junior year abroad with IES Abroad became an indispensable stage of my training. I had the opportunity of studying piano in the concert division of the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna alongside my stimulating IES Abroad courses, and my first piano recital was held through IES Abroad in the Palais Kinsky, where Beethoven had also played. My intellectual engagement with music and philosophy and history was developed through my stay in Austria. 

IES Abroad: You did something unique in academia when you decided to teach both music performance and continue to research and write about the work of Ludwig Van Beethoven. How did you create this new career path for yourself and do you find that you’ve inspired others to develop a similar one?

BK: My fundamental qualification for university teaching was obtaining a PhD in music at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), following my studies at Dickinson, in Vienna and also at Yale. But encouraged by my piano studies with Dieter Weber in Vienna, I resolved to continue to perform alongside my activities in research and scholarship. This orientation has gone against the widespread specialization of the music field, in which performance and scholarship are unfortunately usually separated. But my approach eventually proved fruitful, and in my current role at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), I blend both activities, theory and practice, research and performance. 

IES Abroad: Your most recent book, “Beethoven: A Political Artist in Revolutionary Times”, illustrates the power of performance art to respond and reflect the political climate of the day.  Do you think that musical performance artists today have a similar impact and do you think some of them will be remembered 250 years from now?

BK: Yes, I think some of them will be remembered well into the future, but not in the same way as Beethoven, who stood at a crucial juncture point between Enlightenment and Romanticism, stimulated as he was to remain true to the idealistic principles of the French Revolution even when these principles had been tragically betrayed in political practice.

IES Abroad: What advice would you give to students planning to study abroad in Austria as soon as it is possible to do so?

BK: To seize this opportunity! Follow your dreams and visions, endeavor to learn other languages, imbibe other cultures, absorb passionately the best ideas from different nations and traditions!

Learn more about studying abroad in Vienna, and check out all of our Alumni Spotlights and Alum of the Month profiles to see real examples of how study abroad changed the lives and careers of our past students. Are you an alumn? Make sure to join our Facebook or LinkedIn groups so you can connect with other Alumni! 

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