Beethoven and His Nine Symphonies
This is one of the finest of all books concerning Beethoven, and is assuredly the very finest study of his symphonies. The author – whose monumental “Dictionary of Music and Musicians” was already accepted as the standard reference work on music long before his death in 1900 – drew upon his penetrating musical acumen and his trenchant expositional talent to offer the reader, in the present work, an understanding of Beethoven that can hardly be obtained from any other work.
The major portion of the book is devoted to a detailed analysis of the nine symphonies. Taking them in chronological order, the author examines the symphonies movement by movement, illustrating his points with numerous excerpts – often as many as three or four per page. In non-technical language he considers characteristic rhythmic and harmonic patterns, unprecedented progressions, remnants of the influence of earlier composers, embryonic forms that eventually ripened into major stylistic techniques, typical modes of variation and development, sources of thematic ideas and other deeply absorbing musicological considerations. The discussion emphasizes the uniqueness and iconoclastic renunciations of established musical theory exhibited in the symphonies.
In addition to the foregoing the author comments at some length on the state of affairs in the musical world during Beethoven’s time, the conditions under which he worked, the way he went about composing the symphonies, relation of the symphonies to the minor works, events in the composer’s personal life during the writing of each symphony, circumstances surrounding the premiere performances, reception of the various symphonies by the public and the critics, Beethoven’s troubles with pirating publishers, and other pertinent background material. Examples of Beethoven’s correspondence appear at appropriate points, including several letters to the Countess Theresa and the famous letter to his brother Carl and Johann.
Publisher: Dover Publications
Author / Composer: George Grove