The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824

The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824

by Harvey Sachs


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The premier of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna on May 7, 1824, was the most significant artistic event of the year—and the work remains one of the most precedent-shattering and influential compositions in the history of music. Described in vibrant detail by eminent musicologist Harvey Sachs, this symbol of freedom and joy was so unorthodox that it amazed and confused listeners at its unveiling—yet it became a standard for subsequent generations of creative artists, and its composer came to embody the Romantic cult of genius. In this unconventional, provocative book, Beethoven’s masterwork becomes a prism through which we may view the politics, aesthetics, and overall climate of the era. Part biography, part history, part memoir, The Ninth brilliantly explores the intricacies of Beethoven’s last symphony—how it brought forth the power of the individual while celebrating the collective spirit of humanity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812969078
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/08/2011
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 607,642
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Harvey Sachs is a writer and music historian and the author or co-author of eight previous books, of which there have been more than fifty editions in fifteen languages. He has written for The New Yorker and many other publications, has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow of the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and is currently on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He lives in New York City.

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Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
randoymwords on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is actually an exploration of changes in European culture that occured after Napoleon's final exile. Using the ninth as his cultural pivot point, Sachs presents the beginnings of Romanticism as a rebellion through art and literature against the re-assertion of power by the royal dynasties. Poets and musicians led the call for rights and brotherhood where actual political dissidents would be imprisonment or executed.After being given a good background on Beethoven's life and examples of how others around him were responding to the changes of that decade, we are taken on a walk-through of the ninth symphony. This is given with the least amount of musical terminology possible and is also an attempt to describe the emotional effects of each movement.We are then given a look at the aftermath of the ninth on musical culture. Beethoven may have been a man of his time, but it still took the European world a while to catch up with him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a sophmore at Saint Joseph High School. The Ninth Beethoven and the World in 1824 is a good book and is very informative. Unfortunately, there is not a lot on Beethoven himself or the Ninth Symphony. The book is revolved around the timeframe and the major events that occured during Beethoven’s process of creating his works. It is more like a history textbook then a book about the process of the Ninth Symphony. The information about the events happening during Beethoven's life seems to repeat itself and unnecessary information. Instead of writing down what happened during 1824 the author writes backgrounds for the kings and officials, which is unnecessary. The author also included discredited opinions about Beethoven's life, which can really confuse the reader. He does state that the following statements are discredited, but it should just be left out of the book. However, the book does discuss information about Beethoven’s stance on the revolution and his opinions on what was going on in the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chris__C More than 1 year ago
Sach's argues that the Ninth symphony expresses a 'quest for freedon: political freedom from the repressive conditions that then dominated Europe...'. But the argument is not convincing. Sachs discusses at some length the work of several artists and writers active around the time the symphony appeared, among them Byron, Pushkin and Hegel. He argues that these artists provide the 'hidden thread' that enables us to see the symphony as a work of political liberalism. Byron voiced radical political views and Pushkin was at odds with Tsar Alexander, but Sachs does not demonstrate any thread connecting Beethoven with their views. Beethoven in Vienna was as close to Austrian and Russian aristocrats as he was to the populus. His Wellington's Victory symphony was a paeon to the conservative forces that had overcome Napoleon - the very forces Sachs believes Beethoven was opposing in the ninth symphony. Beethoven dedicated the ninth symphony itself to the King of Prussia and given the exulted tone of the music it is difficult to see this as an act of cynicism. Hegel, whom Sachs also discusses, was hardly a democrat. The argument of course must focus on the setting of the Ode to Joy in the last movement. A burning need to communicate prompted Beethoven to use words for the first time in a symphony. But the words do not convey a political message. There is no mention of freedom but of friendship, brotherhood and love. The best part of the book is Sachs's debunking of those who seek verbal meanings in absolute music. If he believes this, why has he tried so hard to read a political message into Beethoven's all-embracing work? "Be embraced you millions", sings the choir, "by this kiss for the whole world." This, and Beethoven's music, transcends politics.