In this captivating study of Beethoven's nine symphonies, Beethoven expert Lockwood wonderfully recreates the cultural and historical background of each work, the challenges the composer faced while writing it, and its enduring artistic qualities. Lockwood illustrates elegantly that Beethoven's preoccupation with the symphonic form grew out of his restless longing to achieve originality and his desire to experiment with various musical forms. With close attention to detail, Lockwood examines sketches and the process of composition. The second symphony, for example, written between 1800 and 1802, shows the increasing influence that French music had on Beethoven, as well as his engagement with the ideas of heroism and the ideals of the French Revolution. The eighth symphony, written in 1812, "reflects a wide range of stylistic directions," expressing his "sense of freedom and widening artistic space." With his now most familiar tune, the "Ode to Joy" from the ninth symphony, Beethoven sought to compose an easy-to-sing melody whose simplicity and power made it memorable. Lockwood's engaging study offers an excellent introduction and listening guide to Beethoven's symphonies. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/09/2015 Release date: 10/01/2015 Genre: Nonfiction
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