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The Life and Works of Beethoven | [Jeremy Siepmann]

The Life and Works of Beethoven

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, vulnerable and belligerent, comic and tragic, and above all, heroic.
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Audible Editor Reviews

This superb documentary features an unpretentious, well-written, intelligent narrative; excerpts from the composer's own correspondence and other contemporary documents; and liberal, lengthy quotations of Beethoven's music. Most popular accounts, fiction and nonfiction, of Beethoven's life either sentimentalize or demonize the man. Here, however, we receive the most balanced and humane account of his personality. The author, a noted British musicologist, delivers his own copy with informality and warmth, and five worthy actors handle the excerpts. Best of all, Naxos has chosen music recordings that highlight the tempestuous romanticism that most notably informed Beethoven's groundbreaking works and personal gestalt.

Publisher's Summary

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, 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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

© and (P)2001 NAXOS AudioBooks

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (86 )
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3.8 (18 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rand fitchburg, WI, United States 08-21-03
    Rand fitchburg, WI, United States 08-21-03 Member Since 2001
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    "beethoven's life and works"

    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.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen newhall, CA, USA 02-15-03
    Stephen newhall, CA, USA 02-15-03
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    "more life less music"

    The program is called The Life and Works of Beethoven, but it is a bit short on the life and heavy on the works. This would not be bad but the sound of the music is not very good and some of the music is played too long. But over all I did enjoy this program.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay Quintana 07-01-03 Member Since 2003
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    "Enjoyed every minute"

    True, this doesn't give an indepth account of Beethoven's life, but the production's lively and entertaining--it reminds me of great radio. The Life and Works of Chopin is another great title.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
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    Daniel Cleveland, OH, United States 10-19-03
    Daniel Cleveland, OH, United States 10-19-03 Member Since 2003
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    "mostly music, light on biography"

    This title is mainly music, with small pieces of biography interspersed. If you are looking for music of beethoven, from various genres, with a small amount of anecdote placed in between, this is just the ticket. If you are looking for a biography, or for music with musical analysis, it is not (see the Teaching Company for the latter). I enjoyed it. I have left it on my IPOD for its musical qualities (as if it came from iTunes).

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Hill Atlanta, GA 03-22-04
    J. Hill Atlanta, GA 03-22-04 Listener Since 2003
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    "Excellent for non-musicians"

    This reminded me of Karl Haas' Adventures in Good Music on NPR. It focuses on Beethoven's character and what was happening in his life when different pieces were composed. It's very accessible to someone unfamiliar with musical terms. Much of the information comes from letters by Beethoven and others, read by various actors.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jorge NORFOLK, VA, USA 12-25-03
    Jorge NORFOLK, VA, USA 12-25-03
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    "AMAZING!!!!!!"

    This is really a wonderfull portrait of one of the greatest composers ever. I always tought of Beethoven's music as being a bit too strong because I only knew the symphony's works, but it was totally fascinating.
    A+++ !

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cort Kensington, CA, United States 03-21-09
    cort Kensington, CA, United States 03-21-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Terrible audio but interesting facts"

    Be prepared for a horrible audio experience. The music is espcially bad and a travesty to the genius of Beethoveen. However, the text does contain some interesting facts.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Calgary, Alberta, Canada 11-27-08
    Walter Calgary, Alberta, Canada 11-27-08
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    "The Proper Study of Man Is Man"


    This is true biography in the language of the subject: music. To paraphrase the above quotation: “The Proper Study of Music Is Music.”
    There are biographies of composers which describe their lives ad infinitum and give endless details ad nauseum. They are better than nothing, but this biographer knows his subject better: Beethoven's life is described in words and music.
    Here is the highest accolade: the biographer's motive is pure.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Haifa, Israel 09-03-12
    Peter Haifa, Israel 09-03-12

    beep02

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    "interesting book, but audio quality of the music.."
    Where does The Life and Works of Beethoven rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is really great intention behind this book, but quality of audio in parts of actual music is very low. The story is moderately interesting. There are better books in print about Beethoven, but this definitely one, that you also will enjoy, as a true fan of the composer.
    It will be great, if the same book (books about other composers), but with good quality music will appear in future as part of story. We need more such books, but in higher quality.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Alastair Binnie 10-14-04 Member Since 2002
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    "Functional but uninspired"

    Audio is of course a natural format for a musical biography, and this delivers a competent short biography of the great man (turns out, not as stone deaf as the popular image). But this won't grab you like a novel the way a really good biography should, which is a shame considering he was such an interesting and iconic character. It's a bit dull - somehow I never quite connected with the subject at an emotional or psychological level; but you get the facts - often quite sad -without any sensationalist speculation or idle dallying. The splendid thing is the musical excerpts - I could have done with many more, and more musical analysis. Perhaps they were tacked on as an afterthought for the audio edition.
    For drivetime, only recommended if you a strong pre-existing interest in Ludwig van.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Margaret
    Nieuwerkerk a.d. IJssel, Netherlands
    3/24/09
    Overall
    "the magic of Beethoven"

    This audio book is so easy to listen to and it gives a clear idea of the life of this wonderful composer with its many difficulties. Some of these difficulties were the result of Beethovens inability to say out loud that he was becoming deaf and some were probably rooted in his unhappy childhood. I was left in tears with the last piece of music, Beethoven was right not to be worried about what would happen to his music - it will live forever

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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