Beethoven: Anguish & Triumph, Swafford
Author: Jan Swafford
Format: Hardcover, 1,104 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (2014)
Jan Swafford’s biographies of Charles Ives and Johannes Brahms have established him as a revered music historian, capable of bringing his subjects vibrantly to life. His magnificent biography of Ludwig van Beethoven peels away layers of legend to get to the living, breathing human being who composed some of the world’s most iconic music. Swafford mines sources never before used in English-language biographies to reanimate the revolutionary ferment of Enlightenment-era Bonn, where Beethoven grew up and imbibed the ideas that would shape all of his future work. Swafford then tracks his subject to Vienna, capital of European music, where Beethoven built his career in the face of critical incomprehension, crippling ill health, romantic rejection and “fate’s hammer,” his ever-encroaching deafness. Throughout, Swafford offers insightful readings of Beethoven’s key works.
About Jan Swafford:
Jan Swafford is an American composer and author. He earned his Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Harvard College and his DMA in composition from the Yale School of Music. His music has been widely played by ensembles, including the symphonies of St. Louis, Indianapolis and the Dutch Radio. He is the author of biographies of Ives, Brahms and Beethoven. His many honors include an NEA Composer Grant and the Deems Taylor Award for online writing on music, which he won for his essays in Slate. He is a longtime program writer and preconcert lecturer for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has written notes and essays for the orchestras of Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and Toronto. Among his liner notes for recordings are those for DGG’s anniversary release of Beethoven’s nine symphonies by the Vienna Philharmonic.