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Beethoven For A Later Age Paperback – September 15, 2016
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- Publisher : FABER & FABER; Main edition (September 15, 2016)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0571317146
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571317141
- Item Weight : 6.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.92 x 0.39 x 7.68 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,293,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Alec Nesbitt, Larkspur Colorado
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Not knowing anything about classical music, I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. Edward Dusinberre, first violin of the originally Hungarian Takács quartet, relates to us his experiences of being part of the quartet, with particular influence on the string quartets of Beethoven.
The book is part chronicle of the day to day life of a quartet and part biography of Beethoven. Obviously there are more comprehensive biographies of Beethoven on the market, and this book doesn't claim to be one, but it was very helpful to have some cultural context when it came to describing different pieces of music.
On that note (pun intended), one thing that let the book down for me ever so slightly was the amount of 'music jargon' that you encounter whilst reading it. Descriptions of chords and 'flavours' of different pieces of music, the merits of playing X part in Y manner, and any number of other things went over my head a little. It has encouraged me to listen to the pieces of music that the book mentions, having never heard any of them before. Rather like describing a paining, one can't truly understand what is being described until one has seen (or in this case, heard) it for oneself.
Thoroughly recommended though, and very enjoyable.
It's not so much a narrative, in the way the Borodin or Guarneri books are . Rather, it's a series of chapters based around particular Beethoven quartets (Op 18 no 1, Op 59 no 2, Ops 127, 130, 131 and 132), the title coming from a quote about the Opus 59 Quartets by Beethoven himself. It covers their background, composition and performing histories in Beethoven's time as a way of shedding light on the dynamics of the Takács Quartet at particular stages of their career. Each chapter looks at particular aspects of their life - rehearsing, performing, recording, absorbing new members (Dusinberre himself, who joined when the Tacács was 18 years old, Roger Tapping, Geraldine Walter), loss (the death of Gábor Ormai) - and meditations on the works themselves. A delightful and insightful read. I found the final chapter, on the alternative endings to Op 130 and what it said to him about the group itself, particularly affecting.
As another review says there's very little personal stuff – just a few glimpses into their private lives – but just enough. Did Dusinberre keep a diary? Conversations are reconstructed from long ago – but it works well. A delightful book, and one that makes you revisit the works discussed with the book in hand, the better to see them from the performer's point of view.