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Beethoven (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 4. September 2014


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Pressestimmen

Praise for Johannes Brahms
 
 
A New York Times Notable Book
 
 
"It is a measure of the accomplishment of Jan Swafford's biography that Brahms's sadness becomes palpable . . . [Brahms] manages, like Swafford's previous study of Charles Ives, to construct a full-bodied human being." — Edward Rothstein, New York Times Book Review
 
 
"The definitive work on Brahms, one of the monumental biographies in the entire musical library." — Weekly Standard (London)
 
 
"This brilliant and magisterial book is a very good bet to . . . become the definitive study of Johannes Brahms." — Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
 
"Swafford comes to the task armed simply with a determination to understand a personality which, in the private life and the music, has so often proved hard to grasp. And it must be said that he has succeeded magnificently." — The Independent (London)
 
 
"[Clara Schumann] confessed that the great composer always seemed a 'stranger' to her. Swafford's [Brahms] is an earnest attempt to discover that stranger, who concealed his fragile identity behind a mask of roguish humor and a big, famous beard." — The New Yorker
 
 
"A splendid critical biography." — San Francisco Chronicle
 
 
"Truly revelatory . . . Swafford's study, clearly a labor of profound affection, is a model biography: eloquent, clear-sighted, and often moving." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
 
"A definitive work about one of the 19th century's most influential classical music composers . . . This is an exceptionally well written chronicle of this musical master, an extraordinary work, guaranteed to inform and entertain classical music aficionados and tyros alike." — Kirkus
 
 
Praise for Charles Ives
 
 
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography
 
 
"First rate . . . Thoughtful, witty, instructive . . . One of the best biographies in recent memory." — Newsweek
 
 
"A sensitive, specific, gracefully worded and remarkably clearheaded book that is both an engrossing biography of a craggy idiosyncratic New England 'character' and a detailed examination of the work he left behind." — Washington Post Book World
 
 
"Scrupulously detailed and unfailingly enthusiastic." — The New Yorker
 
 
"A superb writer . . . [Swafford has] brought the old curmudgeon . . . to vivid life, at once a comic and a tragic figure and in terms of his significance in American artistic life, on the level of Twain or Whitman." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 

"A thorough, affectionate and unblinking account of the life of the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)..Due to the author’s unsurpassed research and comprehension, we stand in the presence of a genius and see all his flawed magic." --Kirkus, starred review
 
"In this brilliant, exhaustive story, biographer and music historian Swafford (Johannes Brahms) brings new life to Beethoven." --Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice


A Christian Science Monitor Top 10 Book of the Month


"Swafford’s craftsmanship shines...The book is two books: a biography and a series of journeys through the music, a travelogue with an excitable professor. Readers will want to have a recording playing so they can match metaphors to sounds. I found myself engaged by his imagery, sometimes delighted and surprised." –Jeremy Denk, New York Times Book Review


"Compelling...Despite the wealth of historical detail, this is no dry academic tome, but a biography full of colorful descriptions of the composer and his milieu...Comprehensive, detailed, and highly readable, this is an entertaining biography that should find favor with music lovers and history buffs." –Seattle Times


"Swafford creates the perfect blend of a historical person and musical genius...Monumental...A truly remarkable biography."–Christian Science Monitor


"Swafford’s writing on Beethoven’s music is perceptive and illuminating. But just as impressive is his sympathetic portrait of Beethoven the man. Swafford’s book, which should be placed alongside the excellent biographies by Lewis Lockwood and Maynard Solomon, does not diminish any of the composer’s flaws. Instead, it suggests that these flaws were inconsequential compared with the severity of the composer’s anguish and the achievement of his music." –Washington Post 


"Swafford has a knack for bringing in the reader wholly unschooled in the technical vernacular of classical music. That skill is in evidence in this blend of biography and musical assessment. Even if you don't know the difference between a leitmotif and a lighthouse, don't sweat it, for this is, more than anything, a saga of a man at odds with so many things: convention, social mores, himself, women, his family ... If this isn't exactly the Beethoven that Schroeder of 'Peanuts' fame worshiped, it's a more believable characterization, and, more than that, one gets a better sense of how this roiling personality produced works to roil the human soul."–Boston Globe


"Magnificent...Some of the most enjoyable segments of his book are the spirited and knowledgeable readings of Beethoven’s various compositions. These passages are so passionate that they virtually propel the reader across the room to the CD collection, to play the pieces being so smartly described...A stunning tour de force, a Beethoven biography to shine for a lifetime." –Open Letters Monthly


"Monumental...Engaging and entertaining...Beethoven aficionados and lovers of classical music will want this book, as will readers interested in biography and the artistic milieu of late 18th- and early 19th-century Europe."–Library Journal, starred review


"A thorough, affectionate, and unblinking account of the life of the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)...Due to the author’s unsurpassed research and comprehension, we stand in the presence of a genius and see all his flawed magic."–Kirkus, starred review


"In this brilliant, exhaustive story, biographer and music historian Swafford (Johannes Brahms) brings new life to Beethoven."–Publishers Weekly, starred review


"Swafford’s craftsmanship shines...The book is two books: a biography and a series of journeys through the music, a travelogue with an excitable professor. Readers will want to have a recording playing so they can match metaphors to sounds. I found myself engaged by his imagery, sometimes delighted and surprised." –Jeremy Denk, New York Times Book Review 

"A thorough, affectionate and unblinking account of the life of the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)..Due to the author’s unsurpassed research and comprehension, we stand in the presence of a genius and see all his flawed magic." --Kirkus, starred review
 
"In this brilliant, exhaustive story, biographer and music historian Swafford (Johannes Brahms) brings new life to Beethoven." --Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

"A thorough, affectionate and unblinking account of the life of the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)..Due to the author’s unsurpassed research and comprehension, we stand in the presence of a genius and see all his flawed magic." --Kirkus, starred review


"Swafford’s craftsmanship shines...The book is two books: a biography and a series of journeys through the music, a travelogue with an excitable professor. Readers will want to have a recording playing so they can match metaphors to sounds. I found myself engaged by his imagery, sometimes delighted and surprised." –Jeremy Denk, New York Times Book Review 


"Compelling...Despite the wealth of historical detail, this is no dry academic tome, but a biography full of colorful descriptions of the composer and his milieu...Comprehensive, detailed, and highly readable, this is an entertaining biography that should find favor with music lovers and history buffs." –Seattle Times


"Monumental...Engaging and entertaining...Beethoven aficionados and lovers of classical music will want this book, as will readers interested in biography and the artistic milieu of late 18th- and early 19th-century Europe."–Library Journal, starred review


"A thorough, affectionate, and unblinking account of the life of the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)...Due to the author’s unsurpassed research and comprehension, we stand in the presence of a genius and see all his flawed magic."–Kirkus, starred review

 
"In this brilliant, exhaustive story, biographer and music historian Swafford (Johannes Brahms) brings new life to Beethoven."–Publishers Weekly, starred review -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Jan Swafford (born 1946) is a writer and broadcaster, and the award-winning author of biographies of Charles Ives, Johannes Brahms and Ludwig van Beethoven, as well as The Vintage Guide to Classical Music. He is also a composer, and teaches composition, theory and music history at The Boston Conservatory. He studied at Harvard and the Yale School of Music.


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63 von 68 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Exquisite biography of a musical master 14. Juli 2014
Von Steven A. Peterson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
This is a rich and nuanced biography of Ludwig van Beethoven--warts and all. The book does not romanticize him; it does not take a critical orientation. It is an evenhanded consideration of a complex, extraordinarily talented, difficult person. And it highlights his musical output--making the book very compelling.

This is, on the one hand, a cradle to grave biography, beginning with his family's background and his early life (I had always thought it settled that his birth was on December 16, 1770--but not so certain according to the author). The book explores his childhood as a prodigy, pushed by his father to generate income. His father championed him as a new Mozart (indeed, the young Beethoven met Mozart once, to no great advantage).

The book also traces his musical output, from childhood efforts to his mature works--the final string quartets, Symphony # 9, Missa Solemnis, and the like. One of the stronger features of the book is the author's detailed discussion of selected works, in terms of their "musicality." Jan Swafford, the author, teaches music history, theory, and composition--so that he has the requisite background for making sense of Beethoven's music. I cannot read music, so that his inclusion of the music itself is beyond me--but his description of the music informs well enough.

The book also considers the arc of Beethoven's life--his battles with others, his friends, his volatile temperament, his relationship as guardian of his nephew, his (ill-fated) loves, his challenging economic situation over time, his scheming to enhance his income (sometimes offering several publishing companies the same piece of music!), his progressive deafness (a tragedy for a composer and a pianist) and so on.

All in all, an important work if one wishes to understand better Beethoven's life and art.

But the value of this book is (a) a deeper understanding of Beethoven the person and (b) his music and how it came about.
47 von 52 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Mammoth, magisterial, and magnificent biography of Beethoven 15. Juli 2014
Von Stanley Hauer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
Jan Swafford’s new life of Beethoven is the best book I have ever read about the composer. Indeed, it is one of the best biographies I have read, period. Some have complained that the book is too long, too detailed. But for those with the time and the interest, these matters are fascinating. Swafford has taken a lifetime of research and distilled it into a rich tapestry of Beethoven’s life. It took me a week to read, but I enjoyed every page of it.

Swafford’s book is a straightforward biography. It lacks, for example, the psychological foregrounding of Maynard Solomon’s earlier (and very good) biography. It more resembles Thayer’s memorable and massive biography, though nowadays that set is more for the power-lifter than the everyday scholar. It is not a day-by-day set of annals, nor a thematically-linked reminiscence. It is a straightforward recounting of the great man’s life. Keep going with it. Though the book starts rather slowly, it builds narrative sweep and drama. Plan to be up late several nights.

There are musical analyses of most of Beethoven’s signature works. I found them interesting and often enlightening. Especially full treatments were bestowed on the third and ninth symphonies and the Missa Solemnis. I have to wonder, though, how many readers are capable of keeping all this music in their heads. I found myself frequently having to resort to the CD shelf or YouTube for a refresher. Perhaps the musical biographer Michael Steen stated my case most clearly: “Musicography is about Cellos / But Biography is about Fellows.” Still, I don’t regret these passages in Swafford’s book and intend to return to them later for further reference.

I can best sum up my reaction to Swafford’s book in this manner: I was fortunate enough to read this book in an advanced reviewer’s copy. When it appears in its finished format, I intend to purchase a copy for my library. This is a book I intend to read again someday.
28 von 30 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Some inaccuracies 28. Dezember 2014
Von Elizabeth de Rooy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is an enjoyable read, albeit lengthy and somewhat repetitive. Swafford does a good job in describing the meaning and impact of Beethoven's music, although his analysis will leave non-musicians bewildered at best. Despite his obvious achievement here, Swafford has made some serious errors in his biographic details. For example, there is no concrete historical evidence to support that Beethoven was a chronic alcoholic, only that he drank wine, sometimes to excess in later years. Yet Swafford repeatedly refers to Beethoven's "alcoholism" an issue which has been highly disputed in the more scholarly literature on the topic. Drinking wine in Vienna at that time was as common as drinking soda is today. He also focuses a great deal on Beethoven's propensity for much younger women as objects of his affection and unrealized marital hopes, but without adding that marriages at that time were often between older men and much younger women. Swafford claims to have written a biography based on factual narrative, without interpretation which he wants to "leave to the reader". Yet, these two examples would suggest otherwise and both are, ironically, to the detriment of Beethoven's character. If this were the only biography one read on Beethoven's life, one would not have an accurate picture of his life. One other rather silly mistake that more rigorous editing could have caught before printing: Beethoven's funeral service was not conducted in St. Stephen's Cathedral, as Swafford states, but rather the Church of the Holy Trinity, a small parish church in Alsergrund. St. Stephen's Cathedral kindly lent their funeral coach for the occasion.
33 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Excellent 14. Juli 2014
Von A reader - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
I am so grateful to have read Jan Swafford's new biography of Ludwig van Beethoven. This is a massive book, but I thoroughly enjoyed living with this book as I read it: alternately reading a bit and taking time for reflection.

Because of the level of detail, Swafford helps us gain insight about Beethoven's relationships with his family, friends, patrons (it was fascinating to learn about them individually and better understand that whole system) his bitter disappointments in love, his utter desperation with his hearing loss, his enlightenment views and spirituality, etc. etc. So many other important people appear or are discussed in the book: Bach, Handel (Beethoven's favorite), Mozart, Hummel, Kreutzer, Rode, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Ries, Reich, Gossec, Goethe, Schubert, and especially Haydn, with whom Beethoven had a very long and complex relationship. I also appreciated learning about Beethoven's drive to establish his own musical style and voice, folowing the contributions of Mozart and Haydn.

In the book, we get to see Beethoven in so many roles: child musician, court violist, top piano virtuoso, student, teacher, brother, guardian to his nephew, businessman, and as an innovative genius who faced monumental challenges much of his life. I had never realized how scanty his education was, or what enormous obstacles he faced as a child and young adult.

I also appreciate the historical perspective that Swafford provides throughout. He gives us just enough information, vividly written, about Beethoven's native Bonn, Napoleon and the ongoing wars with France, the enlightenment and its ideals, the Congress of Vienna, and the repressive police state that followed.

Swafford does not mince words or gloss over the complexities of Beethoven's personality, or the immense difficulties he faced throughout life. These subjects are discussed with openness and compassion, as are Beethoven's unfortunate business choices in his later years, his intense conflicts with people around him, and his ongoing, severe health struggles.

My only reservations (very minor) about this book are:

(1) There are long, detailed descriptions of many of Beethoven's pieces. I found them exciting, colorful, and stimulating, sending me to the scores of many pieces, or at least to recordings so I could follow along. Some readers may not care to do that, and may find themselves skipping over those sections

(2) the writing in the second half of the book seemed less compelling than the first. This may just be because Beethoven's struggles were increasing.

This is an outstanding and immensely satisfying book, whether read straight through or used for reference. Most highly recommended. I am pleased to find that Swafford has also written biographies of Johannes Brahms and Charles Ives as well.
14 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
"So much of what we know about Beethoven, we best forget when we come to his art." 9. März 2015
Von Justin Faircloth - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Let me begin by saying that I'm a Beethoven fanatic. For me, Beethoven is the pinnacle of Western music and Western art. And like some Beethoven fans, I feel a great affinity for the man and his music. I've long felt that I understood Beethoven through his music and through what I've known about his life. But I've never gotten around to reading a full biography of Beethoven. Mostly because, for much of my life, the Maynard Solomon bio was the most definitive in English, and I was trying to avoid reading any pschobabble about Beethoven. I say that as someone trained as an academic who has read too much art history scholarship based on Freud and Lacan (and one would be too much for me). After the Swafford, though, I'm probably going to give Solomon a chance.

So let's start with the good. As the five star, free-book reviews will tell you the book weaves details about Beethoven's life with discussions of his music. Swafford's writing about the music is really good. I have a new appreciation for some works that I've neglected. The Op. 10, No. 3 piano sonata, the third of the Op. 1 piano trios, and the first and third entries of the Op. 18 string quartets come to mind. His discussion of the Missa solemnis is excellent. I finally understand the Missa, a work I've admired but always felt a little distance from (and ordinarily I love masses). The discussions of the 18th-century and Beethoven's understanding of the characteristics of keys were very helpful. He went a little too long on the Eroica, and I can't understand his logic behind when to switch from bio to the discussions of music; all in all, though, Swafford's treatment of the music is excellent and warrants four to five stars.

Now for what I found to be problematic. I must admit that the first thing I did when I received the book was to read the chapter on the Immortal Beloved. Like many, I've long been interested in the Immortal Beloved. I've found the argument of Klapproth and Steblin (whose IB work doesn't even show up in the Works Cited which calls in to question how much scholarship Swafford skipped in his ten years of working on this book) to be pretty convincing in regards to Josephine, but I wouldn't have condemned Swafford for arguing for another strong candidate. Instead, he punts saying that as an artist he can appreciate mystery. Well, most people like mystery. The whole interest in the Immortal Beloved is due to the mystery. But part of the job of a biographer is to try as best as possible to understand the subject. I imagine that Solomon draws conclusions about the character of the man based on his idea of who the Immortal Beloved is (Antonie Brentano). Part of the problem is I think that Swafford doesn't really care because he's not actually that interested in the man, Ludwig van Beethoven. He thinks he has figured Beethoven out and doesn't like what he's found. It becomes clear through this 936-page product of ten years' work that Swafford doesn't like his subject as a person. I'm all for a warts-and-all biography, but Swafford's judgment about Beethoven is that he's a childish, solipsistic, misanthrope who hated people (oh and he could also be very kind and loving when it pleased him). He may at times have been all of those things, but I don't think that is who the man was. But what is more concerning is that when we get to the last page of this large work we read that understanding the man tells us nothing about his art or, if it does, we should forget about it. Am I the only one among most of these glowing reviews that found that very problematic coming from a biographer? We want to know about his biography because we love his music, but his biographer tells us that doing so will harm our appreciation of his music. So why, Mr. Swafford did you want to write biographies if they tell us nothing about the music these men produced?

In addition, I understand that this biography was written for the general public and not just for academics (as if that really should make a difference), but Mr. Swafford assumed way to much ignorance on the part of the reader when it comes to the Enlightenment. We got it, move on. Maybe it was just a symptom of the problems of the first third or so of the book, which was less well-edited and well-written than the other two thirds.

If this is the only biography that you are going to read about Beethoven, I don't think I can recommend it. It is a good first biography to get a broad understanding of Beethoven's life and social and historical milieu. But the author's disdain for his subject and his belief that to appreciate the music we should forget about the actual human being who created it makes it highly problematic and will serve to make plenty of room for a definitive biography in English to still be written. (I still don't understand why the most-admired German bio hasn't been translated to English, unless I've missed it.) All that being said, I will keep the book and mark out the sections on specific pieces of music to re-read for my listening edification.
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