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32 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less philosophy, more music, November 27, 2012
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This review is from: The First Four Notes: Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination (Hardcover)
This book is partly about Beethoven's inspirations, thoughts, and sketches in writing the Fifth Symphony. Most of the book, however, is about the development of the view of Fate Knocking at the Door (the usual interpretation of the opening motif) by German Romantic philosophers such as Hegel, etc. It is definitely NOT a biography of Beethoven, nor is it a musicological analysis of the entire symphony and where it fits in the Beethoven canon. While some of the philosophical writing is interesting, most of it is only tangential to Beethoven and his music. The fact that Hegel, Nietzsche, etc. seem to have mentioned Beethoven in passing in an essay or letter or two is not a substantial reason to connect Beethoven to these philosophers. If you want to learn more about Beethoven, his ideas, and a Beethoven symphony and how it relates to the times surrounding its writing and first performance, I recommend Harvey Sach's The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824, published by Random House.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 20, 2013 7:51:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 20, 2013 7:51:45 AM PST
Karl Henning says:
Well, but then a book of the title "The First Four Notes: Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination," one does not expect to be "a biography of Beethoven, nor ... a musicological analysis of the entire symphony." The title is fair disclosure, and you are merely disappointed that the book is not otherwise than what it is.

Posted on Feb 1, 2013 12:38:09 PM PST
Samgee says:
This is not intended to be a biography. That fact does not detract from the book at all. I agree that it's audience is probably more musically literate than the average American, but that doesn't warrant a lower rating.
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