Beethoven was one-sixteenth black

the presenter of a classical music program on the radio announces along with the names of musicians who will be heard playing the String Quartets opus 127 and opus 135.

Does the presenter make the claim as restitution for Beethoven? Presenter’s voice and cadence gave him away as irremediably white.  Is one-sixteenth an unspoken wish for himself.

Once there were blacks wanting to be white.

Now there are whites wanting to be black.

One-sixteenth.  The trickle seemed enough to be asserted out of context? What does the distant thread of blood matter in the genesis of genius.


From the story “Beethoven was One-Sixteenth Black” by Nadine Gordimer.