PERFORMING ARTS

Beethoven: Variations on a Life

Oxford Univ. Aug. 2020. 160p. ISBN 9780190054083. $18.95. MUSIC
COPY ISBN
Examining the life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) through multiple lenses, this slim volume is as much about perceptions of the composer—both during his lifetime and afterward—as it is about Beethoven himself. This is inevitable: A great deal has been written about Beethoven, much of which has wrestled with the substantial lacunae in our knowledge of him. Bonds (music, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) makes no substantial pronouncements on just where to draw the lines between the three periods of his creative output (though he agrees that there are three), or just who the Immortal Beloved actually was (however, the author does have some opinions on the 1995 film of the same title). Instead, Bonds addresses the penumbra of Beethoven’s influence, and how his work elicits insights into the man whose legacy is often overgeneralized. If Bonds fails to draw any grand conclusion, this is perhaps to be expected; given that Beethoven was devoted to his art above all else, in the end, his music must speak for itself.
VERDICT An incisive, accessible, and witty treatment of a musical genius. For fans of all stripes, from the casual to the academic.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month