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Publisher's Summary

Jan Swafford's biographies have established him as a revered music historian, capable of bringing his subjects vibrantly to life. His magnificent new biography of Ludwig van Beethoven peels away layers of legend to get to the living, breathing human being who composed some of the world's most iconic music.
Swafford mines sources never before used in English-language biographies to reanimate the revolutionary ferment of Enlightenment-era Bonn, where Beethoven grew up and imbibed the ideas that would shape all of his future work. Swafford then tracks his subject to Vienna, capital of European music, where Beethoven built his career in the face of critical incomprehension, crippling ill health, romantic rejection, and "fate's hammer," his ever-encroaching deafness.
©2014 Jan Swafford (P)2015 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Indeed, readers will want to refer to the book often when they listen to Beethoven. A marvelous achievement." ( Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Don Middleton on 01-20-15

Huge book - musical reader appreciates best

This is an exhaustive book. Not being a trained musician, I found it a little hard to follow some off the discussions of music theory. And because the author often quoted from contemporary sources certain aspects of the composer's life seems to be duplicated. I found that by printing a list of Beethoven compositions and having that available as I listened, I was able to place my favorites in context. It's hard to imagine a more complete version of a person's life from that period. A fine story well told. Had I been more musical I would have rated it much higher.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Robert W. Brummond on 02-17-16

Very Detailed Biography

What did you like best about this story?

The level of details available about his daily life. Letters and manuscripts (many records kept due to conversations written down because of his deafness).

Any additional comments?

I read other reviews that complained about too much musical composition details. I thought that I would still enjoy that part but found myself eventually skipping through those parts as they could only be enjoyed by another composer. I still enjoyed the book and learned much about Beethoven's life which is what I was hoping to learn.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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