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Music Lessons

Nicholas Spice, 14 December 1995

by Maynard Solomon.
Hutchinson, 640 pp., £25, May 1995, 9780091747046
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... my feelings. Yet the opening of Mozart’s Dissonance String Quartet (K.465, in C), which, as Maynard Solomon intimates, may partly have inspired Haydn’s vision of loss, leaves me comparatively unmoved. And it is the same with the String Quintet in G minor (K.516) and the Fantasy in C minor (K.475) and the B minor Adagio (K.540). In the face of ...

Gleichenstein’s Hat

Robert Simpson, 14 September 1989

Beethoven Essays 
by Maynard Solomon.
Harvard, 375 pp., £23.50, July 1988, 0 674 06377 5
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... can be tricky: we are tempted into making the evidence conform to our theories, Freudian or other. Maynard Solomon recognises this danger, but is not altogether saved from rashness. An example is his chapter on the four dreams that Beethoven happened to describe (very briefly and sketchily) in letters. In one of these letters, addressed to Ignaz von ...

Even more immortal

Paul Driver, 8 April 1993

Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards 
by Gerhard von Breuning, edited by Maynard Solomon, translated by Henry Mins and Maynard Solomon.
Cambridge, 154 pp., £15.95, November 1992, 0 521 41710 4
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Beethoven: Studies in the Creative Process 
by Lewis Lockwood.
Harvard, 283 pp., £31.95, July 1992, 0 674 06362 7
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... resorted to the extreme strategy for a composer of going deaf (there is evidence, adduced by Maynard Solomon, of Beethoven’s partial assent to his misfortune). His lovely thought was duly prolonged in a late flowering of the most profound inwardness; but for all that the world admires the canny success of Beethoven’s creative journey – that is ...

On ‘Fidelio’

Edward Said, 30 October 1997

... deepening rather than ending the work, or struggle, in progress that Gardiner discerns in Leonore. Maynard Solomon notes that 1813 was an unproductive year for Beethoven, immediately after which he resorted to an ‘ideological/heroic’ manner which yielded a series of noisily inferior works ‘filled with bombastic rhetoric and ...

A Single Crash of the Cymbals

Roger Parker, 7 December 1989

Franz Liszt. Vol. II: The Weimar Years 1848-1861 
by Alan Walker.
Faber, 626 pp., £35, August 1989, 0 571 15322 4
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Franz Liszt: A Chronicle of his Life in Pictures and Documents 
by Ernst Burger, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Princeton, 358 pp., £45, October 1989, 0 691 09133 1
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... with the best in literary biography – are rare. One thinks of Frank Walker on Verdi, of Maynard Solomon on Beethoven; a few others will come to mind. The problems are obvious: creative musicians are centrally engaged with a world in which words count for little, and in which the verbal statements that surround them may compromise or even betray ...

Obscene Child

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Mozart, 5 July 2007

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography 
by Piero Melograni, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 300 pp., £19, December 2006, 0 226 51956 2
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Mozart: The First Biography 
by Franz Niemetschek, translated by Helen Mautner.
Berghahn, 77 pp., £17.50, November 2006, 1 84545 231 3
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Mozart’s Women: His Family, His Friends, His Music 
by Jane Glover.
Pan, 406 pp., £7.99, April 2006, 0 330 41858 0
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... departure for Vienna and marriage to Constanze Weber in his mid-twenties. In his 1995 biography, Maynard Solomon gives perhaps the strongest version of the case against Leopold, depicting him as a control freak who tried to maintain his domination of Wolfgang by treating him as an eternal child. Glover, too, is definitely on the anti-Leopold side; she ...

A Great Deaf Bear

James Wood: Beethoven gets going, 7 January 2021

Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces 
by Laura Tunbridge.
Penguin, 276 pp., £16.99, June 2020, 978 0 241 41427 9
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The Beethoven Syndrome: Hearing Music as Autobiography 
by Mark Evan Bonds.
Oxford, 325 pp., £22.99, January 2020, 978 0 19 006847 9
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Beethoven: Variations on a Life 
by Mark Evan Bonds.
Oxford, 147 pp., £14.99, September 2020, 978 0 19 005408 3
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Beethoven: The New Complete Edition 
Deutsche Grammophon, 123 discs, November 2019Show More
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... who found him impossible, noted this extraordinary innocence, a trusting, childlike simplicity.MaynardSolomon’s biography, which appeared in 1977, is the great founding work of Beethoven scholarship in English; its combination of psychoanalytic adventuring and subtle musical analysis is unmatched. It proudly ...

Cosmic Ambition

Edward Said: J.S. Bach, 19 July 2001

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician 
by Christoph Wolff.
Oxford, 599 pp., £25, March 2000, 9780198165347
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... would have been less positivistic, less relentlessly sequential, more reflective, in the manner of Maynard Solomon in his Beethoven and Mozart biographies, which present the known facts and then go on to talk imaginatively and at length about groups of works like Mozart’s serenades or Beethoven’s late quartets and sonatas. When Wolff refers in his ...

Philosophical Vinegar, Marvellous Salt

Malcolm Gaskill: Alchemical Pursuits, 15 July 2021

The Experimental Fire: Inventing English Alchemy, 1300-1700 
by Jennifer M. Rampling.
Chicago, 408 pp., £28, December 2020, 978 0 226 71070 9
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... by a sale of Impressionist art at Christie’s, and almost escaped the attention of John Maynard Keynes, a Newton enthusiast. As it was, Keynes missed most of the lots, and shortly after the auction set about clawing back papers from successful bidders. Most of what he recovered concerned alchemy. On his death in 1946, Keynes bequeathed what is now a ...

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