Maynard Solomon is the author of a classic biography of Beethoven which has become a standard work throughout the world, having been translated into seven languages. In Beethoven Essays, he continues his exploration of Beethoven’s inner life, visionary outlook, and creativity, in a series of profound studies of this colossal figure of our civilization.
Solomon deftly fuses a variety of investigative approaches, from rigorous historical and ideological studies to imaginative musical and psychoanalytic speculations. Thus, after closely documenting Beethoven’s birth and illegitimacy fantasies, his “Family Romance,” and his pretense of nobility, Solomon offers extraordinary interpretations of the composer’s dreams, deafness, and obsessive relationship to his nephew. And, following his detailed uncovering of a complex network of recurrent patterns in the Ninth Symphony, he considers the narrative and mythic implications of Beethoven’s formal design.
Solomon examines the broad patterns of Beethoven’s creative evolution and processes of composition, the radical modernism of his music, and his intellectual, religious, and utopian strivings. A separate section on the “Immortal Beloved” includes the fullest biography of Antonia Brentano yet published. Closing the volume is Solomon’s translation and annotated edition of Beethoven’s Tagebuch, the moving, intimate diary that the composer kept during the critical period that culminated in his last style. Here, as throughout Beethoven Essays, Solomon offers scholarship that is at the cutting edge of Beethoven research.
Solomon’s most important achievement is to demonstrate with astonishing clarity the connection between psychological dramas of the life and the stylistic transformations of the music… Solomon’s vision of the life has all the energy and reflection of the music itself.
The Essays share with [Solomon’s biography of Beethoven] the Enlightenment qualities of reasonableness, humour, learning, lucidity… Intellectually challenging contributions that illustrate so compellingly the ‘overlappings’ between life and works and delineate the extent to which even genius must finally be comprehended as a product of its time and circumstances.
Solomon writes knowledgeably, clearly and forcefully. The book is highly and warmly recommended to anyone interested in Beethoven.
Solomon’s greatest achievement…has been to chart a course of discovery by exacting musicological principles and sail it home.
Solomon has put the entire field on a new footing. This book is a major contribution to Beethoven studies and to current work in artistic biography.
- 384 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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