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Fascinating but frustrating
on 6 September 2014
A fascinating but inevitably frustrating read. John Suchet brings a Classic FM light touch to the subject, but for me fails to 'reveal the man'. The problem he faces, of course, is that there are just not enough hard facts, and he's endlessly left speculating and trying to fill in the gaps - so much so that he verges on caricature at times. By the end of the book I was really none the wiser about this extraordinary and puzzling genius: the answer, I guess, is to listen to the music.
Some things were annnoying: the 9th Symphony is rightly given a big build-up, but the Missa Solemnis, which Beethoven himself regarded as his best work (I agree!), is downplayed to a couple of lines. Suchet pronounces the cause of his death as cirrhosis of the liver (it could have been a number of things) but an alcohol problem is never referenced throughout the book, as one might have expected. Perhaps the best you can say, is that it's fired up my interest.