Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last Master, The: Passion and Anger - Volume 1 (Last Master)
The Last Master, 
Passion and Anger  

"The redemption theme of Prometheus* floated into his mind. Just the music. His music. No noises. No whistling. or rushing, or buzzing, or pain." (p 609)

The first volume of John Suchet's trilogy, a novel based on the life of Beethoven, takes his life from birth through his famous Heiligenstadt Testament of 1802, Beethoven's acknowledgement of the incurability of his growing deafness. We read of his beginnings where the prodigy emerges from the shadow of his father's thwarted ambitions to develop his own unique place in the musical life of the European capital of music, Vienna. By the end of this part of his life, Napoleon was on the precipice overlooking the rest of Europe and Beethoven was on the verge of greatness. The author deftly weaves important moments in young Ludwig's life into a narrative that rivals other fictional musical bildungsromans. I am reminded of Jean-Christophe, a novel about a German composer by Romain Rolland who adored Beethoven. The composer Beethoven was influenced not only by family relationships but by the musical world around him, including the devastation of Mozart's death. In it all we see the development of his personality, his vision, and his genius.

* Beethoven composed music for The Creatures of Prometheus in 1801, the same year he composed his Op. 27, no. 2 Piano Sonata, "quasi una fantasia,"Moonlight".

The Last Master, Volume 1 by John Suchet. Little, Brown & Co., Boston. 1996

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