Summary and Info
This biography of Ludwig van Beethoven provides a portrait of Beethoven the composer more than the personality of the man. Barry Cooper is a noted musicologist and this is reflected in his approach to Beethoven. He provides in depth detail about the music, probably much more than the average concertgoers would prefer. For example, Mr. Cooper discusses the various key modulations that make Beethoven's approach to music revolutionary. Mr. Cooper does deal fairly with Beethoven's relationship to his nephew Karl and his legal battle to keep his nephew from the perceived corrupting influence of his mother Johanna. He also provides a good discussion about the famous "Immortal Beloved." However, Beethoven's personality and habits are drawn but not fleshed out with a lot of detail. For example, Beethoven was frequently obliged to change his residence often due to his irascible personality and unruly habits. Mr. Cooper does not cover the more colorful aspects of Beethoven on such a level. He does relate anecdotal information about Beethoven the man but, clearly, it is Beethoven the composer who interests the author.
The book is well written if a bit dry at times when discussing musical details. Mr. Cooper provides musical examples to illustrate his points and there also is a series of plates. This is an excellent volume about Beethoven and his place in musical history. However, if you were interesting in reading more about Beethoven's personality I would look elsewhere.
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