How a young musician overcame prejudice
to become an international sensation
HOLLYWOOD, CA, December 7, 2018 - The year was 1770, the place was Bonn, Germany. His drunken father took one look at the baby with the dark complexion and lost his temper. His mother insisted the child was his. This was the beginning of a childhood filled with anxiety, prejudice, and uncertainty for young Luis. We know him as Beethoven.
Was Beethoven black? Probably not, in terms of DNA. But there is little doubt that the child who grew up under the thumb of a domineering, alcoholic father did not look like other members of his family, or even his community. We may never know why. Descriptions of him by neighbors and friends often begin, “He was black,” meaning darker than others, and therefore subject to discrimination in the German north.
Invictus, a new novel by L.L. Holt published by Harvard Square Editions, takes Beethoven’s otherness as a point of departure as it explores the child’s journey from birth to a series of setbacks in his 16th year. But the obstacles and catastrophes that the resilient child navigates are not the final word: we know how this story will end.
Invictus is woven through with several other themes rooted in the revolutionary age in which the boy lived.
This was an age in which European scientists were exploring the notion of race and reason. While young Beethoven (known as “Luis” in this story) was growing up, a scientific experiment was taking place in Kassel, less than 200 miles away, in which Africans were kept without their permission and subjected to tests. Most eventually died in the cold northern climate.[i] Yet, at the same time, there were other scientists who asserted that race as we think of it did not exist, and that truly, as Beethoven was to declare through Schiller’s Ode to Joy late in his life, “all men are brothers.”
Another theme is the rise and fall of the Illuminati, which originated in Germany and spread north. Beethoven’s childhood teacher, Christian Neefe (NAY fuh), was the head of the local Illuminati chapter, soon to be outlawed, with death a penalty for membership. Many believe the great composer was a Mason and Illuminati member, a position this book upholds and explores in scenes filled with intrigue and adventure.
Luis falls in love, gains a champion, and is sent to Vienna to expand his gifts in this fictionalized view of his early life seldom previously explored, but must return to parochial Bonn when his mother, the only person who truly loved him, is on the brink of death. She dies, his sister dies, his father sinks further into alcoholism. Yet, something stirs within his heart. And from the other side of history, we know his dreams have not been in vain.
Invictus can be ordered online at amazon.com , bn.com , and other booksellers, as well as in bookstores. L.L. Holt is also author of another novel about Beethoven, The Black Spaniard, and is available for interviews and social media conversations.
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