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3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  124 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
From the Author's Preface:

"I believe that in his greatest music Beethoven was primarily concerned to express his personal vision of life. This vision was, of course, the product of his character and his experience. Beethoven the man and Beethoven the composer are not two unconnected entities, and the known history of the man may be used to throw light upon the character of
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 12th 1960 by Vintage (first published 1932)
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(showing 1-30 of 260)
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Nov 09, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite non-fiction book ever. A book like this could never get published these days. It is too full of sweeping generalizations unsupported by research, and long speculative digressions on subjects about which the author is not any kind of expert. Part biography, part musicophilia, part philosophical rambling, part spiritual journey, part cultural anthropology. And the prose is so beautiful that you are convinced it must also contain correct information. Thank you Daniel. And Daniel's grand ...more
Aug 14, 2013 John rated it really liked it
As consumers we tend to forget that what we enjoy comes from the suffering of others. By this I don't just mean that dirt poor wages in Latin America give us cheap bananas, but the finer things come at a cost, too, in this case the music of Beethoven. As a consumer you listen to the music, love it, and yet don't have to live through the pain that aroused it in the first place. Listening costs you nothing. In a sense it almost seems like irresponsibility or hearing a secret you weren't supposed t ...more
John Park
Aug 01, 2013 John Park rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exemplary "entry-level" introduction to Beethoven's life and music, this little book is still in print* almost a century after its first publication. Sullivan rarely assumes musical knowledge or expertise on the part of the reader but discusses Beethoven's major works in terms of what they mean to us and how they reflect the composer's deepening understanding of existence in response to the crises in his life.

Inevitably the book shows its age here and there: Sullivan tends to see humanity as
Cy Winther-Tamaki
Jan 23, 2016 Cy Winther-Tamaki rated it liked it
Insightful perspective of Beethoven's inner life, but was based rather much on speculation for my taste, and the author's bias came out pretty strong, though I agree that Beethoven is a magnificent composer, it isn't necessary to repeat "a composer of Beethoven's scale" so often. I did like the emphasis on Beethoven's struggles and how his music transformed in relationship to them.
Jan 28, 2016 Sho rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classical-music
Nothing I've read could be ever more painful that the last four chapters of this book.

J.W.N. Sullivan has provided a marvelous and unparalleled account of how Beethoven's rich inner life shaped his music and the most authentic analysis of the man behind the music. I would recommend this to every Beethoven scholar or fan who is genuinely interested in knowing more about the Romantic composer who was praised in this book not for his only for his god-like qualities (which are undeniably present any
Sep 12, 2012 Pippa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, religion, music
This was a fascinating book. Insights are given into different pieces of music and, whether you agree with him or not, it is a fascinating journey. I would have taken issue with some things if I'd been having a discussion with him. For instance he says that string quartets are the 'most sincere' forms of expression and opera the least. As an opera lover I feel that for me it touches the heart in the very deepest place, and therefore, at its best must be totally sincere. Maybe it just belongs to ...more
david blumenshine
Dec 03, 2010 david blumenshine rated it really liked it
"There was nothing in this man, either natural or acquired, to blunt his perceptions. And he was not merely sensitive; he was not merely a reflective mirror. His experiences took root and grew. An inner life of quite extraordinary intensity was in process of development until the very end..."

had been working on this book off and on for a couple of years, though it is a short volume. it has felt incomplete and not quite the esoteric work i was hoping for; however, i hope to revisit this at a late
Norwood Pearson

Very entertaining insight into the mind of Beethoven. The author uses many primary sources, including Beethoven's letters; however, much of the book is purely speculative. I found the first third of the book, very dense and not as enjoyable. This book is for die hard fans of Beethoven, but probably not the average music fan.
Feb 09, 2012 Aleesa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I found this so compelling, but I did. It's all speculative of course, but tracing someone's spirituality through their music is an interesting concept and a new one to a non-musical person like me.
Feb 07, 2013 Stargazer rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Spoiled by some nutter pencilling tick marks all down either margin - why?? Why mark a library book anyway? Dickhead.
Grace Best-Page
Feb 24, 2013 Grace Best-Page rated it did not like it
This reads like an esoteric doctoral thesis. I found it unreadable, and I even like esoteric stuff!
Jan 07, 2009 Mojgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dare to fight for what you beleive in....ofcourse he was much more than what we're trying to know
Kadie Sanders
Sep 16, 2007 Kadie Sanders rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: musicians, creative types
a good study of the language of music for a "wannabee musician" :)
Phyllis Jennings
Difficult, but worth the effort.
Erkki Moviebuff
Aug 03, 2011 Erkki Moviebuff rated it it was amazing
Faboulous, insightful book.
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John William Navin Sullivan was a popular science writer and literary journalist.
More about J.W.N. Sullivan...

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