Read by the author, the reading is fluid and beautifully nuanced. Yes, the illustrative musical passages are sometimes a bit long, and not of the highest audio standard, but the quality is adequate for getting the author's points across. There is a good balance of life and works in the portrayal, my only complaint being that I would have liked a bit more discussion of the musical dynamics in LVB's compositions -- the presentation is light in this regard. The voice of LVB in quotation is absolutely wonderful, positively surly. LVB's life was cosmically tortured, and the story itself is utterly gripping. The author does a wonderful job of contrasting LVB's transcendent music with the pedestrian sorrows of his life. I've listened to this audio book perhaps 5 times -- it's one of those books that you can listen to over and over without losing interest. Warning: after listening to this book, you will want to listen to every composition LVB ever wrote. It's a great introduction to Beethoven.
I think the negative review that suggests there aren't chapter divisions in this audiobook should be removed, because it is not accurate, at least in iTunes and on my iPod Touch. Remember that in iTunes, the Chapters menu appears in the TOP (main application) menu, as the next-to-last item. There you can choose any of the 14 chapters. And on the iPod, there is a small icon in the upper right in the audio app that lets you do the same. For anyone who has an Audible subscription, these Modern Scholar lecture sets are among the absolute best bargains in the store. Don't forget that you can download the beautiful pdf lecture notes that go with the course. I have found that the spoken and written versions sometimes differ in detail, each with its own rewards.
This is my favorite audio book of the perhaps 50 I own, and I have listened to it some 30 times or more. I think that Annie Dillard is an extremely gifted writer, and would recommend anything she has written -- at audible.com you can also get her audio book _For the Time Being_ (which of course I recommend as well!). Why do I like Annie Dillard so much -- because she is such a master of seeing, she is the ultimate teacher in the school of nature, she teaches you to take a close look at the natural world, and when you do, your life is changed. The transcendence is always in the details, and she is unmatched in her attention to detail and in her power to artfully describe what she sees. She is also a master of the pithy quote, peppering her writings with truly magical quotations from other writers. Her style tends to be a bit bombastic at times (she is widely criticized for this), but I prefer her lively engagement to the phoney "coolness" of the disengaged. The book is organized around some very basic concepts, such as seeing and fixedness. It is a spectacular achievement. The audio book is read well, though there are occasional mispronunciations of more obscure vocabulary.
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