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10 of the best books about Beethoven

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

Published: March 19, 2020 at 4:44 pm

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

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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,

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

10) Jessica Duchen’s Immortal looks at Beethoven’s mysterious immortal beloved.

Read our reviews of the latest Beethoven recordings here

Find out more about Beethoven and his works here

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Authors

Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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