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, both 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.
The great bonus of this audio-biography is that the development of Beethoven’s music can be heard in the context of his life. What did he write in those early, ambitious years when he was at the peak of his musical powers? What did he write when beset with anxiety over his failing hearing? And what was the music that insisted on pouring out of him, even though he couldn’t hear it himself?
Jeremy Siepmann draws us into the private world of Ludwig van Beethoven, with the composer portrayed with rugged vividness by Bob Peck.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2003 Naxos AudioBooks (P)2003 Naxos AudioBooks
This is fine for what it is--well, sort of fine. Not really. It's neither a real biography of Beethoven, nor an analysis of his work; it's an entertaining but fluffed-out skim over both. Half is segments of Beethoven's compositions, interleaved with brief narrations of his life and descriptions of him by contemporaries (acted quite well; the narrators are very good).
But while the compositions connect to the narrations, they are long (half the book) and nothing is done with them. And while the snippets on B's life are good, they are just that--snippets. The print equivalent of this work would be a short magazine article with glossy illustrations.
A wonderful version of the very same topic is Robert Greenberg's Great Masters: Beethoven - His Life and Music. Greenberg is professor of musicology and a composer. He gives the same material as this book/article, but even more entertainingly, with much greater depth, and an enlightening, sophisticated, accessible analysis of B's compositions and life. It's better in every way, and costs less, if you are buying without credits. Greenberg's is 6 hours long vs. this work's 5 hours. It's not a pedantic work; it's this work, done better.
Okay, long review. Short form--it's definitely not worth the money.
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