This long-esteemed book offers the reader a highly interesting glimpse of Beethoven, the man. There are a number of biographical studies of Beethoven, but nowhere else will you find such a convenient classified collection of his utterances and opinions. Through his own words emerges an image of a man, torn by personal problems and a tragic affliction, yet impelled by a keen sense of his destiny and place in the history of music.
Included are over 300 of Beethoven's reflections on the art of composing: "The startling effects which many credit to the natural genius of the composer, are often achieved with the greatest ease by the use and resolution of the diminished seventh chords"; on his own temperament and character: "Many a vigorous and unconsidered word drops from my mouth, for which reason I am considered mad"; and on other composers: "Rossini would have become a great composer if his teacher had frequently applied some blows ad posteriora"; on performers: "These pianoforte players have their coteries whom they often join; there they are praised continually — and there's an end of art!"; on his own suffering: "My defective hearing appeared everywhere before me like a ghost; I fled from the presence of men, was obliged to appear to be a misanthrope although I am so little such."
There are also his views on art and artists, on his own works, on education, nature, poetry, God and other matters. Friedrich Kerst originally gleaned this material from various sources, such as Beethoven's diary, the famous conversation-books, the Heiligenstadt Will, and his correspondence with the Archduke Rudolf, Ferdinand Ries, Dr. Wegeler, Cherubini, the "Immortal Beloved," and many others. Altogether it forms the handiest compilation of Beethoven's recorded remarks in existence. Out of print for years, this annotated translation by a renowned American music authority, Henry Edward Krehbiel, is once more made available for the illumination and enjoyment of scholars, students, and music lovers.
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