Last updated: 17.12.19
Printed: 1995 Author: William Kinderman
Publisher: University of California Press ISBN: 0520087968
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Hardcover (May 1995), usually ships within 2-3 days.
Amazon Reviews
Synopsis : Combining musical insight and the most recent research, Kinderman's biography of Beethoven is both a richly drawn portrait of the man and a guide to his music. In analyses of individual pieces, Kinderman shows that the deepening of Beethoven's musical thought was a continuous process over decades of his life. 30 illustrations.
A reader from California , July 10, 1999: A fresh look at Beethoven. This unhackneyed, interesting book surveys Beethoven's music via representative, sometimes little known works, arrayed in a loosebiographical framework. Kinderman concentrates on Beethoven'scharacteristic traits, many of which are clearly audible already in thecomposer's childhood and teenage works. The book is aimed at a generalaudience, though a little familiarity with Beethoven's music and basicmusical terminology is useful (sonata, recapitulation, key).
The book conveys an idea of some of Beethoven's compositionaltechniques (the analyses are relatively brief, and often only cover aspectsof given works, but many are extremely insightful). In more descriptivepassages, Kinderman hones in on the essential in the music, withoutwasting time with the usual sturm+drang+fate baggage too often equatedwith Beethoven. Typical Beethovenish features, such as the mischievoussense of humour, and the sensory and emotional effects achieved without atrace of sentimentality, get their due too.
To be sure, there are some flaws. The segments on certain philosophicaltendencies of the time were not interesting (for me), but Kinderman doesclearly label these optional. Fortunately, the reader can easily separate outsubjective interpretations from the first rate analyses, since Kindermandoesn't disguise his views in pretend academic authority. I do somewhatcringe at the musicological cliché of calling Beethoven's middle period"heroic". To me, this baffling label puts a false programmatic spin on whatis really extremely varied music. In the same vein, the one compositionreally nicknamed "heroic" may get the only really overblown interpretationin the book (what is known about Beethoven's original sketch plans forthe Eroica doesn't to me seem to support Kinderman's view). Fortunately,I never got the feeling that Kinderman tried to cram his views downanyone else's throat.
Otherwise, the book remains on solid ground. I upgraded my original fourstars to five, since I think this book is very useful to those who love themusic and want to understand some of it a little better. Currently nothingelse (that's in print and easily available) does the job as well asKinderman.