BEETHOVEN: THE MAN REVEALED
By: John Suchet
It is perhaps more true of Beethoven than any other composer that if you know what is going on in his life, you listen to his music through different ears. Ludwig van Beethoven’s life – its dramas, conflicts, loves and losses, his deafness coupled with continuous health problems, his epic struggle with his sister-in-law for sole custody of her son, his nephew – is played out in his music.
Now John Suchet has portrayed the real man behind the music in this compelling biography of a musical genius. He reveals a difficult and complex character, struggling to continue his profession as musician despite increasing deafness, alienating friends with unprovoked outbursts of anger one moment, overwhelming them with excessive kindness and generosity the next, living in a city in almost constant disarray because of war with France.
This is not the god-like immortal portrayed in statues and paintings in heroic pose garlanded with laurel leaves. Beethoven may have been one of the greatest artists who ever lived, but he was still a man who had to live among fellow mortals, eat and drink, fall in love, pay his rent. This is the real Beethoven, and Suchet brings him effortlessly to life.
I have loved and performed Beethoven since I was very young and have read a good deal about the life and times of this giant among composers, but John Suchet’s infectious enthusiasm and fascination, probing the details behind every step of his life, and turning sensitive sleuth when the facts are less clear, opens new vistas and makes for a gripping and thought-provoking read.
- Howard Shelley, Pianist and Conductor
John Suchet offers us a fascinating and touchingly human insight into a great figure who has consumed him for decades. By exercising a genuine authority in identifying how Beethoven, the man, manifests himself in our appreciation of the music, Suchet brings an incisive freshness to an extraordinary life. The results in his ‘Beethovenia’ are always rigorously researched and accompanied by a child-like passion to communicate the composer’s true essence.
- Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Principal of the Royal Academy of Music
Beethoven’s music continues to form one of the cornerstones of the concert repertoire some 200 years after it was written, and its sheer ingenuity and inventiveness never cease to amaze the perceptive listener. Knowing the context in which it was written can aid our understanding of the music, and every biography of Beethoven’s unusual life has something new to say. Although some aspects of his life, such as his deafness, and his great love for his only nephew, are well known, this book also includes many details that are less familiar. John Suchet writes with infectious enthusiasm, and his avoidance of technical detail makes this a biography that can be read and understood by anyone interested in the composer.
- Professor Barry Cooper, University of Manchester
John Suchet’s wonderfully readable biography of Beethoven will give a fresh insight for many people into the happenings behind the music. Beautifully illustrated, it will appeal to the music lover who wants to enhance the experience of listening to some of the greatest music ever written.
- Angela Hewitt, Pianist