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The Beethoven Compendium: A Guide to Beethoven's Life and Music Paperback – 11 Mar 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd; New edition edition (11 Mar. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500278717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500278710
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.9 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
Every library should have one. This is undoubtedly the best reference book about Beethoven to come out in years, pulling together and ordering both facts and opinions, and drawing upon modern research as well as the time-honoured for its substance.
The co-authors are the British Drs. Anne-Louise Caldicott, Nicholas Marston and the American William Drabkin (based in England), whose various contributions are brought together under the reliable baton of Dr Barry Cooper, himself one of the foremost Beethoven scholars of recent times.
The content of the book itself is well laid out and logical: it is in sections, starting with biographical details and followed by invaluable material on the political, social, philosophical and musical environment of Beethoven's time (in many biogrpahies this is often hazy at best and assumed at worse, so its inclusion here is welcome). It then progresses through sections on source materials to a hefty section on the music itself. This consists of a full list of all published, unpublished and incomplete works - more often absent from otherwise useful books, followed by a classification of the music into types, with commentary. There is also a good critical review of biographers and researchers, and, in light of modern reconstruction of 'period' music, one of especial interest which deals with performance styles.
The authors write with genuine feeling and enthusiasm for their subject, but the style is blessedly unemotional, and the book no less fascinating as a result. The articles are readable and substantial without being weighty or turgid, and in a style accessible to non-scholars and those general readers with an interest in the man and his music but not necessarily in the minutiae of dates and events, etc.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By RR Waller TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having done a great deal of research into Beethoven's music and life, this book is an invaluable addition to the "Beethoven shelf". Organised in an effective and efficient way, reading or searching are straightforward. Compiled by careful researchers, it is a veritable mine of information and a wealth of background details.
I first used it while reading John Suchet's biographical novel, firstly to check on Suchet's accuracy (apologies John and it did not last long!), secondly to enhance the reading and to see sources.
I would recommend this to anyone interested in Beethoven.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating and Wonderfully Complete! 29 April 2000
By grandpiano_57 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book offers chapter after chapter of information on every aspect of Beethoven. I find that every time I pick this book up, I can find something interesting to read about. Obviously the music as catalogued and described. Beyond that, details of the great composer's personality, writing style, health difficulties, as well as his known views on a variety of topics provide endless hours of fascinating reading. I am impressed by the thoroughness of this book. Listings of people who Beethoven knew or interacted with, his influences and those he influenced, pictures and descriptions of his handwriting and manuscripts, the historical perspective on the times he lived in, all clearly described. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about this great master, and to anyone who is interested in the life and times of one of the most influential artists to ever live. In summary I have found it accurate and complete and always interesting. It is an indispensable reference.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Unparalleled Structure 13 Nov. 2000
By Absurdist Ad Nauseam - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Undoubtedly thousands of books have been written about Beethoven, but what sets this one apart from the others is its well-organized and exhaustive structure. Perhaps the best way to highlight this for the prospective buyer is to list the actual sections contained in this book. 1. Calendar of Beethoven's life, works and related events 2. Beethoven's family tree 3. Who's who of Beethoven's contemporaries 4. Historical background 5. Musical background 6. Beethoven as an individual 7. Beethoven's beliefs and opinions. Following section 7 are several more sections dedicated solely to his music. As you can see, this book offers several aspects that many others neglect to include. This structure also affords one the opportunity to go directly to an area of interest without having to wade through myriad pages. Also included are eight pages of paintings, sculptures and sketches of the maestro. This book is equally at home in the bathroom, on the coffee table, or in the study. It is an invaluable source of information for anyone desiring to learn more about this amazing genius.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Everything to do with Beethoven! 29 Jun. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book has the biography, the politics of the times, the pictures of, the letters of, the thoughts of others about him, deciphering of each piece of music, a list of his contemporaries, patrons, loves, friends, family tree... everything you could ever want to know about Beethoven's life and times!
I love this book
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A must-own for the Beethoven fan 25 Sept. 2004
By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
All the key facts about Ludwig at your fingertips, plus many more you probably never knew. This book is a terrific reference, an enjoyable read, a great collection of facts and essays, and a bargain to boot. For those who think you need to be a scholar to have this level of interest, you don't. But even a scholar will find handy having so many facts in one place.

The book covers not just Beethoven and his life and works, but Vienna in general, the musical climate of the time, history, politics, developments in musicology, the scholarship of Beethoven's music, musical instruments and practices of Beethoven's time, etc. It's all very well-organized, too, with many nice illustrations of everything from Beethoven's handwriting (how can anyone read it?) to portraits of his contemporaries. And after you finish this marvelous volume, get the one on Mozart, too! I only wish they'd make compendiums for Bach, Schubert, Liszt, Schumann, Haydn, Tchaikowsky, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius, Bartok, Wagner, etc., etc.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Handbook 12 Mar. 2001
By C. J. Zimmel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent resource for researching the life and works of Beethoven. The sections regarding compositions are broken down by ensemble and type, and provide important information such as performance dates, key signatures, time signatures, and movement headings. Almost all topics, including such things as Beethoven's handwriting, favorite literature, philosophies, thoughts on other composers, are covered. Very handy for reference, as well as a guide to starting Beethoven research. Well worth it at twice the price!
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