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Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph, New Biography by Jan Swafford

51mBQbHwtGLI’d not come across a good, thorough biography of Beethoven (at least not currently in print). It’s good to see this huge (1,100 page) book just out by Jan Swafford, whose biography of Charles Ives I found very interesting. I’ve ordered it, and I’m looking forward to dipping into it to learn more about Beethoven and his times; a fascinating man, in a pivotal period for music.

Buy from, Amazon UK.

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  1. Yes! Beethoven requires a special skill to understand his complexity and genius. I once read and still own Thayer’s ‘Life of Beethoven’ written by an American about 40 years after Beethoven died.
    Another essential book about Beethoven is this gem;
    Beethoven: His Spiritual Development (Vintage Book V-100 ) by J.W.N. Sullivan
    It aligns Beethovens own spiritual struggle with his compositions, a fascinating little book it’s not a biography though.
    I’ll check this new one out…thanks Kirk.


  2. I’ll be interested on your take. Like the previous comments, I’ve read Thayer. Another recent option is Barry Çoopers bio that has been well received. It’s sitting on my shelf waiting for some dedicated time. Cooper is the editor of a recently published edition of the complete piano sonatas, which many pianists now consider to be the definitive edition. Interestingly, it’s published as a set of 35 sonatas, not just the 32 that we all think of.


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