Changing Image of Beethoven

Comini, Author, Alessandra Comini, Author Rizzoli International Publications $45 (480p) ISBN 978-0-8478-0617-1
This impressive iconographic history by a scholar at Southern Methodist University examines the development of the Beethoven myth from the time of his arrival in Vienna to the year 1902, when Max Klinger's extravagant, multicolored statue (depicted on the book's jacket) was unveiled. Even Beethoven's contemporaries could not agree in describing his facial features or the color of his eyes, and their portrayals of him varied tremendously. Yet today, we all recognize him and associate his physiognomy with his music. As Comini demonstrates, artists have always incorporated their own interior images of Beethoven into their drawings, lithographs, engravings, paintings and sculptures. The book is enriched not only with 221 reproductions of these works (including portraits of those who wrote about him) but also with a comprehensive, illuminating survey of attitudes toward Beethoven by later artists who were influenced by, and fascinated with, the composer and his music. Indeed, the chapter on ""The Musician's Musician'' takes up 40 percent of the text and contains 717 extensive (and often enjoyable) footnotes. Yet, for all its 480 oversize pages, this book is as compulsively readable on its own more elevated level as another recent study of mythmaking, Joseph Horowitz's Understanding Toscanini. (August 21)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1987
Release date: 06/01/1987
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