For many people, Beethoven is the greatest composer who ever lived. In this portrait-in-sound, actors' readings combine with his music to reveal a titanic personality, vulnerable and belligerent, comic and tragic, and above all, heroic, as he comes to grips with perhaps the greatest disability a musician can suffer. No man's music is more universal; few men's lives are more inspiring. In every sense but one - his modest height - he was a giant.
This superb documentary features an unpretentious, well-written, intelligent narrative; excerpts from the composer's own correspondence and other contemporary documents; and liberal, lengthy quotations of Beethoven's music. Most popular accounts, fiction and nonfiction, of Beethoven's life either sentimentalize or demonize the man. Here, however, we receive the most balanced and humane account of his personality. The author, a noted British musicologist, delivers his own copy with informality and warmth, and five worthy actors handle the excerpts. Best of all, Naxos has chosen music recordings that highlight the tempestuous romanticism that most notably informed Beethoven's groundbreaking works and personal gestalt.
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beethoven's life and works
more life less music
- stephen dumpert