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Beethoven’s Kiss: Pianism, Perversion, and the Mastery of Desire Paperback – May 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804725985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804725989
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,033,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Beethoven's Kiss is a beguiling, insightful, sometimes funny, sometimes moving study. The book is put together performatively, as a memoir-meditation, rather than a piece of traditional scholarship. But its tacit scholarly backing is solid and up to date, and its unorthodox form is under the control of a finely tuned prose style."—Lawrence Kramer,
Fordham University

From the Back Cover

“Beethoven’s Kiss is a beguiling, insightful, sometimes funny, sometimes moving study. The book is put together performatively, as a memoir-meditation, rather than a piece of traditional scholarship. But its tacit scholarly backing is solid and up to date, and its unorthodox form is under the control of a finely tuned prose style.”—Lawrence Kramer,
Fordham University

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Lutz on December 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
The three-star Amazon.com review I have just read misses the point of the book. The book's autobiographical elements are in fact secondary to the cultural critique, serving simply to establish why Kopelson would be drawn to the subject in the first place. The heart of the book explores various forms of musical/sexual performance anxiety as well as the eroticism of playing the piano and of performance itself. The book is cogently argued and beautifully written. Lastly, "Beethoven's Kiss" is funny and moving and is also a kind of very original self-help manual for readers (and amatuer pianists) who suffer from feelings of inferiority.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Caleb Boyd on February 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Kopelson's sense of humor is very entertaining. I am quite new to the field of musicology, and this "New Musicology" is a mystery to me. I feel that this book helped to shed a little light on that. Yes, this book is a sort-of self-help manual. But, it is more than that. It is simultaneously a study of amateurism and its relationship to sexual repugnance and an equating of virtuosity with sexiness.
The title of the book belies its subject. The word "Beethoven" is thrown in, undoubtedly, to boost sales. The book focuses more on Liszt and Chopin. He explains the attraction of Liszt due to his "manliness" and his expert pianism, while Chopin is attractive due to his better skills at composition. Thus, the two composers, in what I think is Kopelson's divine moment, are musically equal in their differences.
The style is smart, witty and simple -- meaning Kopelson seems to write like he would speak. But, I don't know for sure; I've never met the guy. But, if this is so, then he must be incredibly interesting.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The only reason I took away a star is because the queer humour was often over my head, and too often, through fault of my own, I did not know of a musicologist or pianist to whom Kopelson was referring. But I'm sure I will continue increasingly to appreciate this book as I advance in my studies.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1996
Format: Paperback
Reading Beethoven's Kiss, one enters the parlour of an
erudite and witty host. He will tell us both of his
own dense life and the way in which famous musicians relate to
nineteenth century piano music. Imagine that you have come
hungry but Kopelson keeps on feeding you little bitesized
canapes throughout his non-traditional piece of scholarship.

It is his piecemeal use of an interweaving of personal
detail and analysis that makes his arguments hard to follow.
The chronology of Kopelson's life suffers less from this (often ad nauseum)
fragmentary approach than his ideas about the way in
which pianists embody the composers they play.
It is initially exciting to muse on the hypothetical,
to follow the witticisms of Kopelson and learn more about
this charming amateur pianist. However, the
threads of his analysis soon blur amidst the personal asides.
The necessity for a suspension of disbelief is equally straining.
Yes. Perhaps Glenn Gould was gay. Perhaps Andre Gide was musically
inept.And that Barthes was terrible in bed. A hundred clues
don't make a proof (Doestoevsky) and I am
not convinced by some of the foundational assumptions of
Kopelson's argument. The monograph does offer a perspectival
shift in looking at the relationship between the pianist and
his (rarely her in Kopelson) music and provides a memorable
glimpse into the sometimes self satisfied, sometimes moving
life of the author. The onus too often rests on the reader to
bring together all of Kopelson's offerings and with them, make a
meal.
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Beethoven’s Kiss: Pianism, Perversion, and the Mastery of Desire
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