Garrett Burnett's Reviews > Beethoven: The Universal Composer

Beethoven by Edmund Morris
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's review
Nov 06, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: biography-memoir, music
Read in November, 2009

Morris begins the book by explaining that it is for the lay people, not trained music folks. I appreciate how highly he thinks of us lay people, but I spent a fair amount of time not knowing exactly what he was talking about: cantatas, counterpoint, and a number of technical terms I tuned out immediately. As he describes Beethoven's life, Morris also (obviously) describes his music. I checked out lots of Beethoven from the library so I could follow along. I don't much of Beethoven's music--even his famous stuff--and I certainly don't know it by name (Opus 3: String Trio No. 1 in E-flat major?). Really the book should come with a CD.

Morris fawns over Beethoven's brilliance, but certainly doesn't gloss over his myriad failings as a human being. However, Morris seems to give allowance for those failings because Beethoven was, well, brilliant after all. Also, Morris digs too deeply to explain Beethoven's music or behavior, chalking lots of it up to sexual frustration, scars from his father, and longing for his mother.

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