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How Do We Make Sense of Genius?
Matthew Guerrieri
A Zócalo/ASU Center for Science and the Imagination Event

Name the following piece of music: Da-da-da-DUM. If you guessed Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, you were right—and not alone. The Fifth may be the most famous piece of music ever written, and it has thrilled audiences for over 200 years. But why?

We’ve argued for centuries over what distinguishes the sublime from the average. We’re mystified by the workings of genius, no matter how many records it leaves. (Think of Einstein’s Zurich notebooks or Beethoven’s countless letters and musical jottings.) We struggle to cultivate the imagination or “creativity,” yet we have little sense of how to do it and few indications we’ve made any progress in our understanding since the days of Aristotle.

Boston Globe music critic Matthew Guerrieri, author of The First Four Notes: Beethoven’s Fifth and the Human Imagination, a book about the history, legacy, and interpretations of Beethoven’s most famous work, visits Zócalo Public Square to discuss the mysteries of genius and the human imagination.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
6:30 p.m.
Heard Museum
Register online 

The Heard Museum is located at 2301 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ. Free parking available on the museum grounds.

About Zócalo Public Square
Zócalo Public Square, a project of the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and the New America Foundation, is a not-for-profit daily Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism. Zócalo is based in Los Angeles and Phoenix, and roams across the country to explore connection, place, big ideas and what it means to be a citizen, be it locally, regionally, nationally or globally.

All of our events are FREE, open to the public, and followed by a hosted reception. For more information please visit

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