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Beethoven Paperback – October 1, 1979

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Beethoven + Thayer's Life of Beethoven, Part I + Thayer's Life of Beethoven, Part II
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Library Reference; First Edition edition (October 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 002872240X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028722405
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By on April 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book came highly recommended which may have resulted in some preconceived ideas and expectaions. The book is divided into four main sections which each contain about five or six chapters. Mr. Solomon portrays the famous composer's life and times by allotting critical events and major influences individual chapters under one of the four main sections. Mr. Solomon often uses modern psychological theories to explain the dynamics that formed the young Beethoven's personality and then goes on to suggest how this may have influenced his later years. Each of the four major sections ends with a chapter entitled, "The Music," which discusses the music from each period in his life. Each chapter has its own story to tell, describing a particular event, or interactions with, one, or a group of individuals. The chapter entitled, "The Immortal Beloved," was my personal favorite because it encompassed the mystery and suspence that have long captivated Beethoven scholars concerning the identity of the only woman Beethoven loved and loved him in return. The chapter on the events surrounding his nephew Karl exposed the dark side of greatness. What I missed was the feeling of what it might have been like to sit in the audience on opening night for the premiers of Beethoven's Symphonies. Also I would have enjoyed more anaylsis of what made Beethoven's music so innovative. I did not like the arbitrary separation of his music from his life. Each section describes a part of Beethoven's chaotic life and the severe psychological problems he suffered. While the last chapter in each section reviewed the music for each period, it seems to separate the great creative genius from the troubled human being who composed it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By on April 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
During years of piano lessons and attending concerts, I knew little bits and pieces about the great Beethoven, and my parents even bought me a little fake ivory bust of his head. But Maynard Solomon's book brought the man to life for me - and now I have a deeper passion for the music as well. Solomon paints a vivid picture of the culture and even the street on which Beethoven lived. You sense some of his struggles in life, and even his exasperation over losing his hearing. You feel you are peering over the composer's shoulder as a piano sonata or a symphony is being composed. And I was driven to dig up CDs to listen to pieces being described, and even to sit at the piano and feebly stumble through "Moonlight sonata." Sad when the book ended, I was delighted to find another tome on Mozart which, though longer and more detailed, was similarly enthralling. If you care at all about the greatest music ever written, Solomon's analytical narrative is a must.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rolland W. Amos on March 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a well researched, delightfully written book about one of the world's greatest composers of classical music. If you read it, you'll know a whole lot more about the man, his family, his friends and colleagues, his music and his times.
Beethoven was born and raised in Bonn, Germany (1770-1827), but as soon as he could he gravitated to Vienna (Austria), because that was the capital of the Empire (Austro-Hungarian) and that's where the greatest musicians lived and where the greatest opportunities in music were. Beethoven showed some musical promise early in life (though he was no child prodigy like Mozart) and by age 15 he was already composing and performing in public. He eventually learned to play a number of instruments, but by 15 he was already a virtuoso on the piano and in his prime he was the best pianist in Vienna.
Beethoven enrolled at the University of Bonn in his teens but soon withdrew because he preferred to study independently - by reading the classics and the other greats of the day (Kant, Goethe, Schiller, etc.) and through tutoring in musical composition and performing. He eventually studied in Vienna with one of his `music heroes' - Franz Joseph Haydn. (His other `music heroes' included Mozart, Haendel, Glueck, and Cherubini).
Beethoven's life was filled with numerous successes, achievements, rewards, etc., he eventually composed some 600 pieces of music of all kinds, and he knew at the end of his life that he'd won the only kind of immortality in which he himself believed - that which man could earn personally through his own efforts here on Earth. But his life was not all `milk and honey'. Beethoven also encountered much adversity in life that caused him great mental anguish, sorrows and disappointments.
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