"Brilliant....This book is a perfect marriage--or should one say, duet--of subject and author, every word as masterly as the notes of the artist it illuminates." -- Christopher Buckley, Forbes
"This is not just criticism but poetry in itself, with the additional--and inestimable--merit of being true." -- Washington Post Book World
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, Dutch) is one of America's most distinguished biographers, known for his rich, compulsively readable prose style. His biography of Beethoven, one of the most admired composers in the history of music, is above all a study of genius in action, of one of the few giants of Western culture. Beethoven is another engaging entry in the HarperCollins' "Eminent Lives" series of biographies by distinguished authors on canonical figures.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), the protagonist of freedom for music, disentangled music from the control of the ruling class. In publishing his music and writing for the rising classes, Beethoven claimed freedom and expressed the emotions of the new rulers, the artists. The Eroica, Fidelio, and the piano works express the emotions of the new rulers -- the intense love, the need for companionship of people, the forces that conspired to defeat the artist, and the strength and superiority of the artist in overcoming the weaknesses. The letters of Beethoven are the principal nonmusical expression of his personality in its relationship with the world of his time.
In what he called the "dry letters of the alphabet," Beethoven depicted his fears, his loves, and his friendly relations: his fears of deafness and of corrupted texts by pirating printers; his loves, Bettina Brentano and Giulietta Guicciardi; and his friendly relations with Baron Zmeskall, Frau Nannette Streicher, and the music publishers Steiner and Company. He praises the poetry of Goethe and Schiller but condemns Goethe for his obeisance toward royalty. He solicits help during his perpetual trouble with his health and with his servants. He castigates publishers, sets prices for his works, and calculates letters of dedication. He expresses his love for his nephew, Carl, but documents the trouble that Carl was causing him by taking up his precious time. And although Beethoven liked to decorate the letters with musical openings and closings and an occasional song to the receiver, he increasingly signed his letters, "In haste."
The 457 letters collected here are the most important of the letters of the spirit that was to shape and move a century. Explanatory notes comment upon works, on persons mentioned, and on the puns of which Beethoven was fond. The letters chronicle his business, his needs, his humor and bitterness, and his philosophy. They will give many insights into Beethoven's methods, his influences, his moods, and the conditions under which the master worked.
Who hasn't been stirred by the strains of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony? That's a good question, claims Esteban Buch. German nationalists and French republicans, communists and Catholics have all, in the course of history, embraced the piece. It was performed under the direction of Leonard Bernstein at a concert to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall, yet it also serves as a ghastly and ironic leitmotif in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Hitler celebrated his birthdays with it, and the government of Rhodesia made it their anthem. And played in German concentration camps by the imprisoned, it also figured prominently at Mitterand's 1981 investiture.In his remarkable history of one of the most popular symphonic works of the modern period, Buch traces such complex and contradictory uses-and abuses-of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony since its premier in 1824. Buch shows that Beethoven consciously drew on the tradition of European political music, with its mix of sacred and profane, military and religious themes, when he composed his symphony. But while Beethoven obviously had his own political aspirations for the piece-he wanted it to make a statement about ideal power-he could not have had any idea of the antithetical political uses, nationalist and universalist, to which the Ninth Symphony has been put since its creation. Buch shows us how the symphony has been "deployed" throughout nearly two centuries, and in the course of this exploration offers what was described by one French reviewer as "a fundamental examination of the moral value of art." Sensitive and fascinating, this account of the tangled political existence of a symphony is a rare book that shows the life of an artwork through time, shifted and realigned with the currents of history.
The second title in the Amadeus Press Parallel Lives series, this volume examines the lives and work of two giants of 20th century music. Both composers influenced countless others, and their works are performed often in today's concert and opera houses. Felsenfeld gives us a penetrating look into the lives of these two extraordinary men, helping us get to know them and therefore better understand their music. In clear, concise language he examines their major works, helping us to understand their genius and power, which is illustrated by the accompanying audio available online. The author points out parallel developments in Britten and Barber's lives and careers. Both came of age in a time of war, a time of political and artistic unrest and upheaval, and both were celebrities in their own time. Both wrote primarily - and most successfully - for the voice, but neither became ghettoized as a strictly vocal composer, and both were possessed of a flawless compositional technique, with a fluency that bordered on wizardry. Finally, both were prolific, involved musical presences on the world stage. The book includes a link to online audio of a full-length CD from Naxos Records with six complete pieces.
This Companion gives a comprehensive view of the German composer Johannes Brahms (1833-97). Twelve chapters by leading scholars and musicians provide systematic coverage of the composer's life and works. Their essays represent the latest research and reflect changing attitudes toward a composer whose public image has long been out of date. The volume as a whole is an important addition to Brahms scholarship and provides indispensable information for all students and enthusiasts of Brahms's music.
Divided into three sections, this Companion explores Edward Elgar's early career, his major musical achievements, and the reception, performance and interpretation of his work. Placed in this wider perspective, Elgar emerges as a pivotal figure in the British cultural imagination at a defining historical moment for England's musical identity.
The fascinating memoir of the 2004 Grammy-winning composer bases each chapter around a different composition and describes the memory of the life events each piece conjures up, detailing the inspiration and research that went into the creation of each work.
Here are most of the previously unpublished writings of Charles E. Ives: a primary source book on this unique American composer. These "Memos," as Ives called them, were on separate leaves and dealt with his music, composition, criticism, autobiography, biography, and many other topics. During his lifetime Ives rearranged them, lent them out, mislaid and tucked them away in books so that, in the late 1940s, only about three-fifths of them were available to his biographer. After his death in 1954, Ives's papers were gradually put in order, and in time most of the remaining leaves came to light. These two batches are here dovetailed into a three-part form by John Kirkpatrick, who has devotedly arranged, edited, and annotated them. Part One, Pretext, sets forth Ives's aims, his views on music, critics and criticism. In part Two, "Scrapbook," Ives discusses his music. Part Three, "Memories," is devoted to biographical and autobiographical remembrances."
Jan Swafford's colorful biography first unfolds in Ives's Connecticut hometown of Danbury, then follows Ives to Yale and on to his years in New York, where he began his double career as composer and insurance executive. The Charles Ives that emerges from Swafford's story is a precocious, well-trained musician, a brilliant if mercurial thinker about art and life, and an experimenter in the spirit of Edison and the Wright brothers.