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A Life in Nine Pieces
Theory of music & musicology
, Western classical music
, Baroque music (c 1600 to c 1750)
, Classical music (c 1750 to c 1830)
, Romantic music (c 1830 to c 1900)
, 20th century & contemporary classical music
, Individual composers & musicians, specific bands & groups
, Biography: arts & entertainment
, Biography: historical, political & military
2020 marks 250 years since Beethoven's birth
Ludwig van Beethoven: to some, simply the greatest ever composer of Western classical music. Yet his life remains shrouded in myths, and the image persists of him as an eccentric genius shaking his fist at heaven.
Beethoven by Oxford professor Laura Tunbridge cuts through the noise in a refreshing way. Each chapter focuses on a period of his life, a piece of music and a revealing theme, from family to friends, from heroism to liberty. It's a winning combination of rich biographical detail, insight into the music and surprising new angles, all of which can transform how you listen to his works. We discover, for example, Beethoven's oddly modern talent for self-promotion, how he was influenced by factors from European wars to instrument building, and how he was heard by contemporaries.
This tour de force - published for the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth - provides a fresh overview and a wealth of material that has never been revealed to the wider public before. It's a compelling, human portrayal of Beethoven and a fascinating journey into one of the world's most amazing creative minds.
'Tunbridge has come up with the seemingly impossible: a new way of approaching Beethoven's life and music. . . profoundly original and hugely readable'
John Suchet, author Beethoven: The Man Revealed
'We are doubly blessed that Beethoven should have led such an extraordinary life. Laura has combined the two - the genius of his music and the richness of his experiences - to shine a revealing light on our greatest composer'
'This well researched and accessible book is a must read for all who seek to know more about the flesh and blood tangible Beethoven.'
John Clubbe, author of Beethoven: The Relentless Revolutionary
'This book is really wonderful! ... However many books on Beethoven you own, find the space for one more. This one'
Stephen Hough, pianist, composer, writer
'In a year when everyone's looking for a new take on Beethoven, Laura Tunbridge has found nine. ...Fresh and engaging'
Norman Lebrecht, author of Genius and Anxiety
'Remarkable . . . she captures the essence of his genius and character. I'll always want to keep it in easy reach'
Julia Boyd, author of Travellers in the third Reich
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Thought-provoking, superb * Classical Music on Schumann's Late Style * Beautifully written, warmly-accessible, fascinating * BBC Music Magazine on Singing in the Age of Anxiety * Cuts straight to the action . . . Tunbridge balances the traditional narrative of universal, timeless genius, of innovation before its time, with a pragmatic, jobbing musician working hard to make a living -- Alexandra Coghlan * Spectator * Illuminating . . . deftly gathers in the connections . . . In 288 pages, Tunbridge gives us detail enough to create a rounded portrait . . . She makes us marvel at Beethoven all the more -- Fiona Maddocks * Observer * Elegant, enquiring and best read with the music turned up -- Julian Glover * Evening Standard * I found Tunbridge's book full of thought-provoking detail. Beethoven may be irredeemably pale and male, but, in this far-ranging discussion, his life and revolutionary music never feel stale -- Richard Morrison * The Times * Remarkable . . . she captures the essence of his genius and character. I'll always want to keep it in easy reach -- Julia Boyd, author of Travellers in the third Reich Tunbridge has come up with the seemingly impossible: a new way of approaching Beethoven's life and music . . . and in every chapter a superb - and accessible to non-musicians - analysis of the music . . . profoundly original and hugely readable -- John Suchet, author Beethoven: The Man Revealed Mark that young man, he will make a name for himself in the world -- Mozart after hearing the young Beethoven play I truly enjoyed reading it . . . Excellent . . . Laura Tunbridge upends the two-centuries-old image of Beethoven as a Promethean Titan heroically composing works of genius on his isolated rock of suffering. She convincingly argues that Beethoven's current iconic status must be understood within the context of his financial dealings and lifetime of often affable, sometimes acerbic, vibrant interchanges with family members, other composers, patrons, friends, musicians, singers, publishers, producers, and makers of musical instruments. Her detailed musical analyses of familiar as well as now rarely-performed works of Beethoven converse with one another as well as with other music of the era and with quotidian life in Vienna. This well researched and accessible book is a must read for all who seek to know more about the flesh and blood tangible Beethoven and the checkered history of his reception than about the Beethoven of unfathomable mythic immensity -- John Clubbe, author of Beethoven: The Relentless Revolutionary In a year when everyone's looking for a new take on Beethoven, Laura Tunbridge has found nine. It makes great sense to look at the composer not thematically but in selected fragments, taking us nine small steps closer to his elusive totality. Fresh and engaging -- Norman Lebrecht, author of Genius and Anxiety This book is really wonderful! Nine works of Beethoven from different times in his life tell the story of that life - nine windows through which the man and his music are revealed with captivating clarity. We often speak about the 'universal spirit' of Beethoven but this book also brings to life how he fits into, and indeed creates, the new universe of cultural life which was born as the nineteenth century began. However many books on Beethoven you own, find the space for one more. This one -- Stephen Hough, pianist, composer, writer We are doubly blessed that Beethoven should have led such an extraordinary life. Laura has combined the two - the genius of his music and the richness of his experiences - to shine a revealing light on our greatest composer -- John Humphrys