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Editorial Reviews

This superb documentary features an unpretentious, well-written, intelligent narrative; excerpts from the composer's own correspondence and other contemporary documents; and liberal, lengthy quotations of Beethoven's music. Most popular accounts, fiction and nonfiction, of Beethoven's life either sentimentalize or demonize the man. Here, however, we receive the most balanced and humane account of his personality. The author, a noted British musicologist, delivers his own copy with informality and warmth, and five worthy actors handle the excerpts. Best of all, Naxos has chosen music recordings that highlight the tempestuous romanticism that most notably informed Beethoven's groundbreaking works and personal gestalt.

Publisher's Summary

For many people, Beethoven is the greatest composer who ever lived. In this portrait-in-sound, actors' readings combine with his music to reveal a titanic personality, vulnerable and belligerent, comic and tragic, and above all, heroic, as he comes to grips with perhaps the greatest disability a musician can suffer. No man's music is more universal; few men's lives are more inspiring. In every sense but one - his modest height - he was a giant.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2001 Jeremy Siepmann (P)2001 NAXOS AudioBooks

What listeners say about The Life and Works of Beethoven

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rand
  • Rand
  • 21-08-2003

beethoven's life and works

Read by the author, the reading is fluid and beautifully nuanced. Yes, the illustrative musical passages are sometimes a bit long, and not of the highest audio standard, but the quality is adequate for getting the author's points across. There is a good balance of life and works in the portrayal, my only complaint being that I would have liked a bit more discussion of the musical dynamics in LVB's compositions -- the presentation is light in this regard. The voice of LVB in quotation is absolutely wonderful, positively surly. LVB's life was cosmically tortured, and the story itself is utterly gripping. The author does a wonderful job of contrasting LVB's transcendent music with the pedestrian sorrows of his life. I've listened to this audio book perhaps 5 times -- it's one of those books that you can listen to over and over without losing interest. Warning: after listening to this book, you will want to listen to every composition LVB ever wrote. It's a great introduction to Beethoven.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • stephen dumpert
  • 15-02-2003

more life less music

The program is called The Life and Works of Beethoven, but it is a bit short on the life and heavy on the works. This would not be bad but the sound of the music is not very good and some of the music is played too long. But over all I did enjoy this program.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jay Quintana
  • 01-07-2003

Enjoyed every minute

True, this doesn't give an indepth account of Beethoven's life, but the production's lively and entertaining--it reminds me of great radio. The Life and Works of Chopin is another great title.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Daniel
  • 19-10-2003

mostly music, light on biography

This title is mainly music, with small pieces of biography interspersed. If you are looking for music of beethoven, from various genres, with a small amount of anecdote placed in between, this is just the ticket. If you are looking for a biography, or for music with musical analysis, it is not (see the Teaching Company for the latter). I enjoyed it. I have left it on my IPOD for its musical qualities (as if it came from iTunes).

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Hill
  • 22-03-2004

Excellent for non-musicians

This reminded me of Karl Haas' <I>Adventures in Good Music</I> on NPR. It focuses on Beethoven's character and what was happening in his life when different pieces were composed. It's very accessible to someone unfamiliar with musical terms. Much of the information comes from letters by Beethoven and others, read by various actors.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jorge
  • 25-12-2003

AMAZING!!!!!!

This is really a wonderfull portrait of one of the greatest composers ever. I always tought of Beethoven's music as being a bit too strong because I only knew the symphony's works, but it was totally fascinating.
A+++ !

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cortis K. Cooper
  • 21-03-2009

Terrible audio but interesting facts

Be prepared for a horrible audio experience. The music is espcially bad and a travesty to the genius of Beethoveen. However, the text does contain some interesting facts.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Walter
  • 27-11-2008

The Proper Study of Man Is Man


This is true biography in the language of the subject: music. To paraphrase the above quotation: &#8220;The Proper Study of Music Is Music.&#8221;
There are biographies of composers which describe their lives ad infinitum and give endless details ad nauseum. They are better than nothing, but this biographer knows his subject better: Beethoven's life is described in words and music.
Here is the highest accolade: the biographer's motive is pure.

2 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Walter J. Caywood
  • Walter J. Caywood
  • 18-06-2020

Good introduction to Beethoven

Musical selections wonderful. Overview of his life informative especially for those who know nothing about him.

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  • David
  • 06-08-2016

Fine overview of the life, but the music quality is unacceptable.

Siepmann's text is interesting and objective, and I find his narration pleasant and intelligent. But the musical examples, drawn from the Naxos catalog, and which comprise about half of this audiobook, are terribly distorted. The Naxos recordings are actually quite good, but unfortunately the engineers didn't insert them (or so I guess) correctly here.

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  • M. Blythe
  • 14-12-2016

Mainly music not biography

I wanted a biography of the composer. most of this recording is highlights from music, not what I wanted but quite well done if that's what you're after.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Margaret
  • 24-03-2009

the magic of Beethoven

This audio book is so easy to listen to and it gives a clear idea of the life of this wonderful composer with its many difficulties. Some of these difficulties were the result of Beethovens inability to say out loud that he was becoming deaf and some were probably rooted in his unhappy childhood. I was left in tears with the last piece of music, Beethoven was right not to be worried about what would happen to his music - it will live forever

1 person found this helpful

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