Cover image for Beethoven
Cooper, Barry (Barry A. R.)
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xvi, 410 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, music ; 25 cm.
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ML410.B4 C745 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This major new study of Beethoven and his music is written as a single, continuous narrative, using 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 integration of life andworks than is often achieved. The approach works particularly well for Beethoven for two reasons. Firstly, composition was his central preoccupation for most of his life: 'I live entirely in my music', he once wrote. Secondly, recent study of his large numbers of musical sketches has enabled amuch clearer picture of his everyday compositional activity than was previously possible, leading to many new insights into the interaction between his life and music. The volume concentrates on Beethoven's artistic achievements both by examining the origins of his works and by commentary on some oftheir most striking and original features. Statements in earlier biographies have been treated with caution, and have been accepted only where they are supported by sound evidence. Everythingeven down to the translations of individual German wordshas been reassessed as far as is feasible, in an effort to avoide recycling old errors. Manywell-known but fictitious anecdotes have thereby been eliminated, while conversely numerous details discovered in recent years have been incorporated into a general Beethoven biography for the first timenotably information derived from sketch studies and from a new edition for correspondence. Thisvolume reaches many fresh conclusions that should be of interest to both specialists and the general musical public.

Author Notes

Barry Cooper has written several books on Beethoven as well as many articles on the composer and other subjects for leading music journals. His realization and completion of the first movement of Beethoven's unfinished Tenth Symphony from the sketches has been performed in numerouscountries.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

His music was a period unto itself, for Beethoven built on the music of preceding eras and created his own styles. New tonal relationships between sections of a piece, formal innovations, rhythmic exploration, and challenging complexities are the hallmarks that set him apart from his contemporaries (Haydn, Rossini, and Salieri) and far beyond his predecessors (Bach, Handel, and Mozart). He placed his divine art above all else, but he was practical, composing on commissions and for publication to support himself and, after his brother Carl's death, his nephew Karl. His humanism and the need for interaction with his peers always successfully countered his occasional coarseness and irascibility. Through extensive analysis of Beethoven's most significant works, Cooper shows how his creativity developed and how events in his life influenced his compositions. This balanced biography that integrates Beethoven's feelings and motivations with his music belongs wherever there are those who enjoy the great melodies, structures, and harmonic complexities of this unique figure in the world of classical music. --Alan Hirsch

Library Journal Review

Over the past 30 years, much scholarly research has been conducted on Beethoven's correspondence and his music sketchbooks. Cooper (music, Univ. of Manchester, UK; Beethoven and the Creative Process) unites these two sources as a way of refining scholars' understanding of the man, his works, and his creative processes. He is admittedly quite cautious in his treatment of some of the well-known stories and "facts" based on questionable and unreliable sources. No startling new revelations are to be found here, but Cooper does present a new focus for serious students. As a picture of Beethoven and his creative genius, this work does not, however, replace Maynard Solomon's more insightful and adventurous Beethoven (LJ 8/00). Recommended for public and academic libraries.DTimothy J. McGee, Univ. of Toronto (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Young Genius (1770-83)
Adolescence (1784-9)
Farewell to Bonn (1790-2)
The Conquest of Vienna (1792-5)
Wider Horizons (1796-8)
First Quartets and First Symphony (1799-80)
Hope and Despair (1801-2)
After Heiligenstadt (1802-3)
L'amour conjugal (1804-6)
A Cluster of Masterpieces (1806-8)
Financial Security? (1809-10)
Immortal Beloved (1811-12)
The Political Phase (1813-15)
Declining Productivity (1815-17)
Gigantism (1818-20)
Completion of the Mass (1820-2)
Completion of the Ninth (1822-4)
End of an Era (1824-7)
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