Beethoven: The Man Revealed

Beethoven: The Man Revealed

by John Suchet

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Beethoven: The Man Revealed by John Suchet

Beethoven scholar and classical radio host John Suchet has had a lifelong, ardent interest in the man and his music. Here, in his first full-length biography, Suchet illuminates the composer’s difficult childhood, his struggle to maintain friendships and romances, his ungovernable temper, his obsessive efforts to control his nephew’s life, and the excruciating decline of his hearing. This absorbing narrative provides a comprehensive account of a momentous life, as it takes the reader on a journey from the composer’s birth in Bonn to his death in Vienna.

Chronicling the landmark events in Beethoven's career—from his competitive encounters with Mozart to the circumstances surrounding the creation of the well-known Für Elise and Moonlight Sonata—this book enhances understanding of the composer's character, inspiring a deeper appreciation for his work. Beethoven scholarship is constantly evolving, and Suchet draws on the latest research, using rare source material (some of which has never before been published in English) to paint a complete and vivid portrait of the legendary prodigy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802192912
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 12/02/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 638,642
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

John Suchet is recognized as a leading authority on the life and works of Ludwig van Beethoven. This is his first full-length biography of the composer. He presents the morning program on Britain’s Classic FM, and lives in London.

Read an Excerpt

Ludwig did more than teach piano to the Breuning children. He in effect grew up as part of the Breuning household, becoming almost a surrogate member of the family. [. . .] It was there, also, that he first became acquainted with German literature, especially poetry. It is beyond doubt that he will have been introduced to the works of the two emerging giants of German literature, Goethe and Schille. He read Homer and Plutarch. He was trained too in social etiquette. He even went away on holiday with the family. Helene von Breuning clearly took him under her wing and made it her duty to fill in the gaps—academic and social—that early exit from school and singular devotion to music had caused.

His father Johann remained of low standing, and was little more than a figure of ridicule. [. . .] Ludwig was in effect the family breadwinner. Given his father’s alcoholism, he was also de facto head of the household. This was before he was midway through his teens. The pressure he was under must have been enormous. He held a salaried position at court, which demanded serious work. He was continuing instruction with Neefe. At home he was witnessing his father’s increasing alcoholism and his mother’s distress. This was made immeasurably worse by his mother’s obviously declining health. She was showing all the signs of having contracted the deadly disease of consumption (tuberculosis).

And yet he found time to compose.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Prologue xiii

Chapter 1 The Spaniard: In which a momentous life begins 1

Chapter 2 The Right Teacher: This boy could become 'a second Mozart' 23

Chapter 3 Meeting Mozart: Watch out for that boy 43

Chapter 4 Word Spreads: Young Beethoven as kitchen scullion 63

Chapter 5 Impressing the Viennese: But Haydn feels the wrath of an angry young man 89

Chapter 6 My Poor Hearing Haunts: ME But there is 'a dear charming girl who loves me' 107

Chapter 7 Only My Art Held Me Back: In which Beethoven considers suicide 123

Chapter 8 Egyptian Hieroglyphics: Napoleon is no more than 'a common tyrant' 137

Chapter 9 O, Beloved J!: Musical failure, but will Beethoven succeed in love? 155

Chapter 10 A Deeply Immoral Woman: Beethoven holds the most important concert of his life, and is offered a job 173

Chapter 11 Under Cannon Fire: In which Beethoven once again tries his luck at love 193

Chapter 12 Immortal Beloved: 'My angel, my all, my very self 207

Chapter 13 An Utterly Untamed Personality: Beethoven turns again to his 'poor shipwrecked opera' 223

Chapter 14 Into the Witness Box: How the single letter 'o' ruined Beethoven's life 243

Chapter 15 A Musical Gift from London: How Rossini found Beethoven 'disorderly and dirty' 261

Chapter 16 'I Want to be a Soldier': In which Beethoven gets drunk with friends 283

Chapter 17 Two Pistols and Gunpowder: An invitation to get away from it all 303

Chapter 18 Frightening the Oxen: 'The greatest composer of the century, and you treated him like a servant!' 321

Chapter 19 Terminally Ill: 'His face was damp, he spat blood' 337

Chapter 20 The Last Master: 'He was an artist, but a man as well' 353

Postscript 361

Acknowledgments 367

Notes 369

Index 379

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