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Buy *Beethoven: The Universal Composer* online

Beethoven: The Universal Composer

Edmund Morris
Eminent Lives
256 pages
October 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Ok, I admit it – I’m a music geek. I love everything from classical to classic rock and just about everything that will tickle my fancy in between. But you don’t have to be a music geek to enjoy Beethoven: The Universal Composer. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris (Theodore Rex; Dutch: A Memoir Of Ronald Reagan, The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt), the book reads smoothly and not overly wordy as Morris shows what stimulated Beethoven’s genius.

“Contrast and conflict are essential characteristics of Beethoven’s art. Throughout his life, he struggled against epic odds and prevailed with enormous courage. The odds were at various times social, sexual, psychotic, and political, but two essentially tormented him: ill health and loneliness. His muscularity and ruddy complexion disguised the former, at least when he was young, and the latter was self-inflicted. He fled the palaces of his patrons, preferring to pay his own rent and compose in peace. Domestically helpless, he moved no fewer than eighty times, and lived in prosperous squalor, with history’s most notorious pisspot under his grand piano. Yet he was never short of the acolytes and enablers (“Would you like to sleep with my wife?”) that eminence attracts. None of them was privy to the full extent of Beethoven’s bodily and mental sufferings. Two famous documents, written secrecy and discovered only after his death, make this clear: the “Heiligenstadt Testament” of 1802 and the “Immortal Beloved” letter of 1812. In the former, he revealed (or rather filed away in a secret drawer) the most awful fact that a musician can face: that he was going deaf.”
In eight chapters and a little over two hundred and twenty pages (there is also a glossary of musical terms in the back) Beethoven: The Universal Composer encompasses the struggles of the man both personally and professionally. Overall, it’s a great book to learn more about the man Beethoven (with plenty of notes scattered about on his music) and see that geniuses are just like you and me – people!

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Bobby Blades, 2005

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