Beethoven, A Life (Hardcover)
The authoritative Beethoven biography, endorsed by and produced in close collaboration with the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, is timed for the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth.
With unprecedented access to the archives at the Beethoven House in Bonn, renowned Beethoven conductor and scholar Jan Caeyers expertly weaves together a deeply human and complex image of Beethoven—his troubled youth, his unpredictable mood swings, his desires, relationships, and conflicts with family and friends, the mysteries surrounding his affair with the “immortal beloved,” and the dramatic tale of his deafness. Caeyers also offers new insights into Beethoven’s music and its gradual transformation from the work of a skilled craftsman into that of a consummate artist.
Demonstrating an impressive command of the vast scholarship on this iconic composer, Caeyers brings Beethoven’s world alive with elegant prose, memorable musical descriptions, and vivid depictions of Bonn and Vienna—the cities where Beethoven produced and performed his works. Caeyers explores how Beethoven’s career was impacted by the historical and philosophical shifts taking place in the music world, and conversely, how his own trajectory changed the course of the music industry. Equal parts absorbing cultural history and lively biography, Beethoven, A Life paints a complex portrait of the musical genius who redefined the musical style of his day and went on to become one of the great pillars of Western art music.
About the Author
Jan Caeyers is a conductor and musicologist. One of Europe’s preeminent experts on Beethoven, he is the music director of the Beethoven orchestra Le Concert Olympique and a member of the Department of Musicology at KU Leuven.
"Beethoven, A Life continues the journey towards a more complex and nuanced picture of the great composer. . . . Caeyers seeks to unravel the networks that influenced Beethoven’s career, to paint portraits of those who supported him, and to outline the many interests that were at play in forming Beethoven both as a man and an artist. . . . The result is a very readable book that, as a byproduct, offers a generous supply of scene-setting detail. This ranges from life in Vienna in the early 19th century to the grinding economic impact of the French revolution and its aftermath, and even the bathing customs in Bohemian spa towns." FT Books of the Year 2020
— Financial Times
"Among the books about the legend . . . in this anniversary year, the most substantial is Jan Caeyers’s Beethoven: A Life, a magisterial account, rich in archival findings, translated with revisions from the German edition of 2009." Books of the Year 2020
— Times Literary Supplement
Notable Music Books of 2020
— Alex Ross,
"Detailed and engaging, this fitting tribute to the iconic composer will enrich anyone’s enjoyment and appreciation of his great music."
— Library Journal