10 of the best books about Beethoven

We pick out the best biographies, novels and poetry about the great composer Beethoven


1) Anton Schindler wrote one of the earliest Beethoven biographies, published in 1840, but its veracity was soon questioned.


2) Alexander Wheelock Thayer was the next to take up the challenge, with three volumes published from 1866-79.

3) Of the other biographies, Lewis Lockwood’s Beethoven: The Music and the Life remains a classic.

4) As does Maynard Solomon’s Beethoven.

5) More recently, Jan Swafford’s Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph impressed reviewers.

 6) Robin Wallace’s Hearing Beethoven: A Story of Musical Loss and Discovery offered revelatory research about the composer’s deafness.

7) Beethoven’s Conversation Books have been translated into English by Theodore Albrecht, with the first two volumes of the planned 12 out now.

8) Novelist Sanford Friedman also turns to Beethoven’s discussions, this time fictionalised, in his Conversations with Beethoven.

9) Poet Ruth Padel’s Beethoven Variations: Poems on a Life was released earlier this year.

10 Jessica Duchen’s Immortal looks at Beethoven’s mysterious immortal beloved, and will be published in 2020.