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Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination Paperback – October 4, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New Ed edition (October 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520243390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520243392
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,005,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[F]or sheer interpretive genius and an uncommon gift for rendering in prose the complex, humanly compelling subtleties of Beethoven's music and life, few approach Maynard Solomon.... [E]very chapter in Solomon's book is full of subtle, deeply satisfying accounts of what actually went into Beethoven's late-style works." - Edward Said; "With a bow to the immortal study by J. W. N. Sullivan, Late Beethoven could have also been called 'Beethoven: His Spiritual Development.' Solomon weaves amazingly diverse threads, chapter by chapter, into the fabric of Beethoven's belief system, his take on nature, divinity, human purpose, morality, and the mission of music. This is a book of surprises by an author whose combination of breadth of thought, imaginativeness, aesthetic sensitivity, and learning is really wonderful." - Joseph Kerman, author, with Alan Tyson, of The New Grove Beethoven "Maynard Solomon writes with an unrivaled control of a vast cultural and intellectual sweep that reaches beyond Ancient Greece, and with a graceful precision that disguises the rich complexity of his ideas. Distilling from the late works their sources in both the overarching themes of mankind and the troubled psyche of the composer, he has forever altered a familiar landscape." - Richard Kramer, author of Distant Cycles"

From the Inside Flap

"Maynard Solomon writes with an unrivaled control of a vast cultural and intellectual sweep that reaches beyond Ancient Greece, and with a graceful precision that disguises the rich complexity of his ideas. Distilling from the late works their sources in both the overarching themes of mankind and the troubled psyche of the composer, he has forever altered a familiar landscape."—Richard Kramer, Distinguished Professor, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and author of Distant Cycles: Schubert and the Conceiving of Song

"With a bow to the immortal study by J.W.N. Sullivan, Late Beethoven could have also been called "Beethoven: His Spiritual Development." Solomon weaves amazingly diverse threads, chapter by chapter, into the fabric of Beethoven's belief system, his take on nature, divinity, human purpose, morality, and the mission of music. This is a book of surprises by an author whose combination of breadth of thought, imaginativeness, aesthetic sensitivity, and learning is really wonderful.—Joseph Kerman, author, with Alan Tyson, of The New Grove Beethoven

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Quite a bit of the more technical analysis relates to pieces from an earlier period.
KenOC
This is not a casual book, but if you are up for it, it is among the most rewarding Beethoven studies around.
Richard Russell
It should be made clear that this book is more about Beethoven's philosophy, than about his music.
Alek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Richard Russell on June 22, 2006
Maynard Solomon is probably the most important Beethoven biographer of modern times. His book is essential research for serious musicians and composers who wish to gain insight into late Beethoven. Solomon's writing is dense; every word and paragraph count. Many, many musical examples, so the ability to read music (and knowledge of music theory) is a must. This is not a casual book, but if you are up for it, it is among the most rewarding Beethoven studies around.

Richard Russell
[...]
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Good-Bye to All That on January 10, 2007
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Sounds banal but this is really a good read on late Beethoven.

Soloman's done his homework and he writes a nice, clear, subtly postmodern criticism.

Especially fine is his discussion of Romanticism.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alek on December 13, 2010
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It should be made clear that this book is more about Beethoven's philosophy, than about his music. There are two chapters devoted entirely to his relationship with Free Masonry, a good few chapters of rather speculative interpretation of the Diabelli Variations, and very little on the late quartets (what little there is remains characteristically speculative.)
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By KenOC on October 3, 2009
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Very disappointing. I expected this book to help me enjoy late Beethoven by illuminating aspects of his music either through analysis of the music itself, relationships with other compositions, or interesting events in Beethoven's life at the time. Instead, the book seems to be a collection of rather academic essays on trends in Beethoven's thinking about religion, romanticism, Masonic beliefs, and so forth. We learn about his passing interest in Egyptian mystery cults (for example), but little if any of this is convincingly related to his actual music.

Quite a bit of the more technical analysis relates to pieces from an earlier period. We learn that most rhythms in the 7th Symphony are analogous to ancient Greek meters, the dactyl for instance. But, given the extensive dictionary of meters given on page 105, we may be excused for asking -- what musical rhythms are not? One whole chapter is given to the Op. 96 violin sonata, again not a later period work.

Example passage: "We are swept into an irreconcilable dialectic between striving for individual autonomy and powerful regressive pulls toward fusion and oblivion..." If this sort of thing helps you understand and enjoy music, you may like this book. Otherwise, you probably won't.

For Beethoven beginners just getting into his symphonies, one book I can heartily recommend is Grove's "Beethoven and his Nine Symphonies." This 1903 book is only available used (and very costly) at Amazon, so check your library. It's way out of date and lacks the benefit of a century of additional research, but it's still the best and most entertaining introduction to the subject I've ever read. In short, it's everything I had hoped that Solomon's work would be, and isn't.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By sabnizta on November 3, 2006
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I got this book and read through some chapters, and thought that the book gives some good or objective views on late Beethoven. But for some reason, I don't quite agree with some parts of book when author quoted references and associated Beethoven with some sort of religion or political believes. Although I do know there're some transcendental spirits, sublimity and profundity in Beethoven's late music, in his sonatas, string quartets, Diabelli variation among others, he is not religious even till the end but perhaps the greatest music genius and artist. Author also explored Romanism in late Beethoven, which I took less pleasure in reading. I found it less interesting with some of his writing style, when he quoted poems or others words and let reader go with him on some sort of purposeless or boring ride. But overall it is good book on late Beethoven, especially the chapter on Diabelli variations.
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