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Beethoven: Anguish And Triumph (2014)

by Jan Swafford(Favorite Author)
4.47 of 5 Votes: 3
061805474X (ISBN13: 9780618054749)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
review 1: I'm about one third of the way through this well-researched book, but I do not plan to finish it.A lot of the book is devoted to analysis of Beethoven's works. Without examples of Beethoven's scores to refer to or a list of recommended recordings, this makes for slow going and a dry, pedantic style. I read Swafford's Brahms biography and found it interesting and informative, but in this book I think Swafford has missed the mark.As my son said, it's like reading a book about architecture that has no pictures. He's an architect and I'm a musician.
review 2: This is a rich and nuanced biography of Ludwig van Beethoven--warts and all. The book does not romanticize him; it does not take a critical orientation. It is an evenhanded consideration of a complex, extraord
... moreinarily talented, difficult person. And it highlights his musical output--making the book very compelling.This is, on the one hand, a cradle to grave biography, beginning with his family's background and his early life (I had always thought it settled that his birth was on December 16, 1770--but not so certain according to the author). The book explores his childhood as a prodigy, pushed by his father to generate income. His father championed him as a new Mozart (indeed, the young Beethoven met Mozart once, to no great advantage).The book also traces his musical output, from childhood efforts to his mature works--the final string quartets, Symphony # 9, Missa Solemnis, and the like. One of the stronger features of the book is the author's detailed discussion of selected works, in terms of their "musicality." Jan Swafford, the author, teaches music history, theory, and composition--so that he has the requisite background for making sense of Beethoven's music. I cannot read music, so that his inclusion of the music itself is beyond me--but his description of the music informs well enough.The book also considers the arc of Beethoven's life--his battles with others, his friends, his volatile temperament, his relationship as guardian of his nephew, his (ill-fated) loves, his challenging economic situation over time, his scheming to enhance his income (sometimes offering several publishing companies the same piece of music!), his progressive deafness (a tragedy for a composer and a pianist) and so on.All in all, an important work if one wishes to understand better Beethoven's life and art.But the value of this book is (a) a deeper understanding of Beethoven the person and (b) his music and how it came about. less
Reviews (see all)
One of the best biographies of the true genius. I recommend it to every music lover.
Loves this. learned a lot about the man and the music that I did not know before
Biog B415sw 2014
Da Da Da Done!
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