BEETHOVEN: The Music and the Life

Lewis Lockwood, Author . Norton $35 (604p) ISBN 978-0-393-05081-3

Although he breaks no new ground, Lockwood (a Harvard professor emeritus in music and a leading Beethoven scholar) does offer an extremely cogent account of the works as they relate to the well-known three phases of Beethoven's remarkable creative life. It's appropriate that the title places the music first, because it is Lockwood's highly observant account of the composer's musical development that will strike readers most forcibly. There is nothing much new to say about the life, and here Lockwood only goes through the motions, pausing only to observe that despite all the speculation, it is doubtful that Beethoven ever enjoyed the physical love of a woman, notwithstanding his many infatuations and sometimes passionate letters. On the music, however, he has many fine insights, particularly into Beethoven's very conscious and determined development of his skills, and his often-neglected splendor as a melodist. A regular Beethoven listener could do worse than use Lockwood's accounts of the works, particularly the middle and late ones—he's inclined to give scant shrift to anything before the Opus 18 quartets—as concert or record notes, written at exactly the right pitch for knowledgeable music lovers who don't have a score in front of them. Lockwood is also thorough regarding the impact of such previous masters as Handel, Bach, Mozart and Haydn on Beethoven's art. Many illustrations not seen by PW; in an unusual extra, about 100 musical examples linked to the book are available on a dedicated Web site. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 296 pages - 978-0-674-06362-4
Paperback - 624 pages - 978-0-393-32638-3
Hardcover - 283 pages - 978-0-674-43018-1
Open Ebook - 624 pages - 978-0-393-34755-5
Show other formats
Discover what to read next