The almost legendary disorder of Beethoven's house, his eating habits, his growing deafness and ill-health, his tendency to be suspicious of friends, his daily schedule of work, his famous contempt for etiquette, his daily walks in all weathers, his abilities as pianists, sight-ready, improviser, and conductor — all these traits and characteristics are described in this book by contemporary friends and acquaintances of the great composer.
The compilation contains the most interesting, evocative, and amusing sections of letters, diaries, memoirs, etc. describing Beethoven. There are notes on the young Beethoven by his father's landlord, by young Beethoven's piano teacher, by admiring friends, by such musical giants as Rossini, Weber, and Liszt, by the poets Goethe and Grillparzer, by the instrumentalists Czerny, Tomaschek, Moscheles, and Spohr, by Röckel and Schröder-Devrient, who sang early performances of Fidelio, and by many others. The book is illustrated with sixteen portraits of Beethoven.
Arranged chronologically, this engrossing collection presents a remarkably full and convincing picture of Beethoven and his time, preserving a happy medium between the overly heroic treatments of the composer prevalent in the nineteenth century, and the severe tendency of our own time.
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