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Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven and the Grosse Fuge : music, meaning, and Beethoven's most difficult work
Robert S. Kahn.
Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2010.
The Grosse Fuge, composed by Ludwig van Beethoven during his final illness, has an involved and complicated history. Written as the finale for Beethoven's Late Quartet in B-Flat but published as an independent work, the piece raises questions about whether music without words can have meaning, and invokes speculation about the composer and his frame of mind when he wrote it. Robert Kahn examines the work's musical, aesthetic, philosophical, and historical problems, considering its history, structure and development, and the critical response from Beethoven's day until our own. Kahn also explores Beethoven's difficulties with publishers and sponsors, his everyday life, and his character in light of recent advances in the pharmacology of depressive illness, and he theorizes that Beethoven's creative dry spell in his late forties was caused by an extended bout with clinical depression.
     
The Ninth : Beethoven and the world in 1824
Harvey Sachs.
New York : Random House, c2010.
Sachs reviews how Beethoven's innovative symphony challenged conservatism among Europe's monarchies.

Annotation by: St. Louis Public Library staff.

     
Sonata mulattica : a life in five movements and a short play : poems
by Rita Dove.
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2009.
The son of a white woman and an “African Prince,” George Polgreen Bridgetower (1780–1860) travels to Vienna to meet “bad-boy” genius Ludwig van Beethoven. The great composer’s subsequent sonata is originally dedicated to the young mulatto, but George, exuberant with acclaim, offends Beethoven over a woman. From this crucial encounter evolves a grandiose yet melancholy poetic tale.
     

Even those who’ve never heard Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony are familiar with its “da-da-da-DA!” opening.

Beethoven’s music fused the discipline of the 18th century’s “classical” period with the passion of the 19th century’s “romantic” era. Two centuries later, his nine symphonies, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, lone opera “Fidelio,” and even lesser works still inspire listeners.

Born in Bonn, Germany, in December 1770 to a musician father who drove him hard, Beethoven settled in Vienna, Austria, Europe’s musical capital at age 21. He quickly won artistic admiration and financial backing from the city’s aristocracy.

Beethoven by the Numbers

Nine symphonies, the odd numbers being more popular with the exception of the 6th, The Pastoral.
Five piano concertos, the best known is Number 5, The Emperor.
One violin concerto in D.
One opera, Fidelio.

Dec. 16, 1770 is thought to be his birthday. There is a record of his baptism on Dec. 17, and children were traditionally baptized the day after they were born.

More facts

He also realized he was going deaf. In 1802, Beethoven used a long, rambling, unsent letter to his two brothers.  Called the “Heiligenstadt Testament,” from the village where he wrote it, the letter describe his agony, suicidal thoughts, and resolve to conquer adversity through dedication to his music.

A friend and teacher of many women musicians, Beethoven never found the love he described in another rambling, unsent letter, penned in July 1812 to an unknown woman (“my immortal beloved”). A few years later, Beethoven adopted his nephew Karl following the death of the boy’s father – and a bitter custody battle with the boy’s mother.

His relations with Karl, family, and friends often were as tempestuous as some of the passages in his music. Completely deaf, he died in March 1827 after being exposed to bad weather following his farewell to Karl, who entered the army partly to get away from his domineering uncle.

Beethoven's symphonies : a guided tour
John Bell Young.
New York, NY : Amadeus Press : An imprint of Hal Leonard, c2008.
The latest release in this value rich book/CD series brings us the great German composer who bridged the classical and romantic eras. In Beethoven's Symphonies - A Guided Tour, readers are treated to a detailed nuts-and-bolts description in easy-to-understand English of each of the famous nine Beethoven symphonies. This book is perfect for anyone who wants to read, listen, and learn more about Beethoven (1770-1827), and discover how this musical genius changed the face of orchestral music forever.
     
Beethoven : his life & music
Jeremy Siepmann.
Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks MediaFusion, c2006.
Noted music writer Jeremy Siepmann tells the inspiring story of a musical giant. Woven throughout the book are links to carefully chosen selections on the accompanying two compact discs that bring to life the man and his music like never before. You'll also gain free access to an exclusive website from Naxos Records-the world's leading classical music label-that offers the musical works in full, the music of his contemporaries, a detailed timeline and more. Book jacket.
     
Notes on Beethoven : 20 crucial works
Conrad Wilson.
Grand Rapids, Mich. : Eerdmans, 2005.
"In the course of elucidating Beethoven and his music in this volume, Wilson questions the traditional practice of dividing Beethoven's life into three periods, discerns his true attitude toward Napoleon, and probes the "heroic" side of Beethoven's music and its bearing on his work as a whole."--BOOK JACKET.
     
Beethoven : the universal composer
Edmund Morris.
New York, NY : Atlas Books/HarperCollins, c2005.
"Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a genius so universal that his popularity, extraordinary even during his lifetime, has never ceased to grow. It now encircles the globe: Beethoven's most famous works are as beloved in Beijing as they are in Boston." "Edmund Morris, the author of three bestselling presidential biographies and a lifelong devotee of Beethoven, brings the great composer to life as a man of astonishing complexity and overpowering intelligence. A gigantic, compulsively creative personality unable to tolerate constraints, he was not so much a social rebel as an astute manipulator of the most powerful and privileged aristocrats in Germany and Austria, at a time when their world was threatened by the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte." "But Beethoven's achievement rests in his immortal music. Struggling against progressive, incurable deafness (which he desperately tried to keep secret), he nonetheless produced towering masterpieces, such as his iconic Fifth and Ninth symphonies. With sensitivity and insight, Edmund Morris illuminates Beethoven's life, including his interactions with the women he privately lusted for but held at bay, and his work, whose grandeur and beauty were conceived "on the other side of silence.""--BOOK JACKET.
     
Beethoven : the music and the life
Lewis Lockwood.
New York : W.W. Norton, c2003.
Lockwood (music, Harvard U.) is a world-renowned Beethoven scholar who has written extensively on the composer. Written for the general reader, his text portrays Beethoven as man and artist, focusing mainly on his music, but also exploring his life, career, and the age in which he lived. While the text presents his life mainly through his development as a composer, it also places him within the historical, political, and cultural setting in which he lived, and shows Beethoven's works as both reflections of outer influences and as imaginative products of an exceptional musical mind. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
     

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff