Beethoven Anguish and Triumph : A Biography By Swafford, Jan Book - 2014

Quite a whopper of a book: almost 950 pages of text, and extensive notes, many of them explanatory and elaborative. There is relatively little of printed music in it, but lots of biographical matters (controversies, mysteries, places, and living arrangements), and perfect dose of explaining music as needed, and particular compositions in detail: the Heroic symphony (#3), the Ninth symphony, the Missa Solemnis get the most, various piano sonatas, and string works also get a fair share. There is a fair account made of the late works, which are diplomatically described as forever modern. Best of all there are little bits that describe the man, his work, and which can be taken as good advice to ambitious composers reading the book, for example, always keep the whole in view, what is difficult is good, and several others. Scholarly and thorough without being stuffy or intimidating; friendly and not condescending. A great biography.

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