Beethoven

Beethoven

Beethoven

Beethoven

Synopsis

The connections between a great artist's life and work are subtle, complex, and often highly revealing. In the case of Beethoven, however, the standard approach has been to treat his life and his art separately. Now, Barry Cooper's new volume incorporates the latest international research on many aspects of the composer's life and work and presents these in a truly integrated narrative.

Cooper employs a strictly chronological approach that enables each work to be seen against the musical and biographical background from which it emerged. The result is a much closer confluence of life and work than is usually achieved, for two reasons. First, composition was Beethoven's central preoccupation for most of his life: "I live entirely in my music," he once wrote. Second, recent study of his many musical sketches has enabled a much clearer picture of his everyday compositional activity than was previously possible, leading to rich new insights into the interaction between his life and music. This volume concentrates on Beethoven's artistic achievements both by examining the origins of his works and by expert commentary on some of their most striking and original features. It also reexamines virtually all the evidence--from fictitious anecdotes right down to the translations of individual German words--to avoid recycling old errors. And it offers numerous new details derived from sketch studies and a new edition of Beethoven's correspondence.

Offering a wealth of fresh conclusions and intertwining life and work in illuminating ways, Beethoven will establish itself as the reference on one of the world's greatest composers.

Excerpt

Books in the master musicians series have customarily been divided into two main parts—life and work. Only after much consideration has this structure been abandoned here, in favour of a continuous chronological narrative. Such an approach is particularly advantageous in the case of Beethoven, since most of his life was devoted to his works and centred around them. It might even be said that his composing life was his real life, the true home for his mind, and the embodiment of his spiritual development, whereas mundane activities of daily life were of marginal concern for him.

Most of Beethoven’s regular occupation consisted of sketching and drafting his compositions, and large quantities of these sketches survive. Thanks to the researches of Douglas Johnson, Alan Tyson, Robert Winter, Sieghard Brandenburg, and many others, far more is known now than thirty years ago about this aspect of his life, and in any balanced biography his sketches and autograph scores should occupy a prominent place. the sketches pose a particular problem for a life-andworks study, since there has been much debate about whether they are primarily of biographical or analytical significance. in fact, they shed much light on both his life and his works, bridging the gap between them. For instance, when it is noted that Beethoven added the first bar of the slow movement of the ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata at a very late stage, thereby forging both a link from the end of the previous movement and also subtle motivic connections (rising 3rd followed by falling 3rd) with the first two movements, the observation is both biographical and analytical.

An integrated approach to Beethoven’s life and works also allows works to be seen in their immediate historical and musical context, and has been tried successfully by several writers—most recently William Kinderman (1995) and Lewis Lockwood (2003). These two authors, however, concentrate mainly on the works. the present study, while placing more emphasis on biography, stresses those aspects of Beethoven’s life that impinge most closely on his musical output. The

Some of the general problems of the relationship between life and works are discussed in Dahlhaus, Beethoven, 1–10 (for full reference to this and all literature cited, see Appendix D).

See jtw and individual articles by Brandenburg.

Kinderman, Beethoven; Lockwood, Beethoven.

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