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The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824…

The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824 (2010)

by Harvey Sachs

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The topic is interesting but the book is kind all over the place. It reads like three completely independent essays rather than one book. I did enjoy digging out my vocal score and recalling how satisfying and vocally demanding it was to sing but I'm afraid I didn't get as much out of this as I had hoped.
  amyem58 | Oct 30, 2015 |
"Do not rob Handel, Hayden and Mozart of their laurel wreaths. They are entitled to theirs, but I am not yet entitled to one… Persevere, do not only practice your art, but endeavor also to fathom it’s inner meaning; it deserves this effort. For only art and science can raise men to the level of gods….The true artist has no pride. He sees unfortunately that art has no limits. He has a vague awareness of how far he is from reaching his goal; and while others may perhaps admire him, he laments that he has not yet reached the point to which his better genius only lights the way for him like a distant sun."

Ludwig van Beethoven

This was excerpted from a letter that Beethoven wrote to a young admirer of his music. It is sometimes said that Beethoven lacked abilities with the written word. He certainly was quite ground on the earth that we also walk but his aspirations were boundless.

This book is a very personal tribute to the author's introduction to an inner life. An early birthday present of a modest record player (yes, those did exist) and a few select records started a lifetime heroic appreciation for the grand.

The book looks first at political events of the time and cites the repressed political passions turned safely to the arts as the source of the romantic movement. Then he unwisely described the Ninth Symphony in some detail that may be only of interest to the readers and players of music. He concludes by sharing the opinions of other composers about Beethoven's Ninth.

He shares an anecdote from the late scholar Jacques Barzun about a pianist who played a piece at a party. One person asked the player what the piece was about so the pianist sat down and played the same piece again. There is simply nothing more to say.

Once at a lecture I attended by renowned conductor Raymond Leppard, he was asked how to write about music. He said that he writes around it. What words do we have that could even describe Middle C?

Go ahead, play the Ninth and then consider this book for some context ( )
  Forthwith | May 6, 2015 |
This book is not only about the creation of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, but also the situation of music, classical music as it were, in 1824 in the early half of the 19th century in Europe. This is not a book about the technical details of music, about how Beethoven crafted his work in a more general sense, but getting into how the man thought and did his work. It also looks back on the situation of political change in Europe, particularly that caused by Napoleon. I waited a while before pluging into the book, and realized I need to have something to say about the book. I remember my own first encounter with the Ninth, when I got all of Beethoven's nine symphonies as an intrductory offer to a record collecting series in the late 1950's. It was my first literal encounter with contrapuntal music, and I tried to sing along with the choral group in th furth movement and got thoroughly lost in the third stanza of Schiller's poem -- barely coming up for air at the end. I am returning this book to the library as an overdue, and I almost would like to own it, so it is recommended. ( )
  vpfluke | Apr 21, 2013 |
Harvey Sachs, Random House,2010, $26.00/C$32.00, 240pp, 978-1-4000-6077-1.

The Ninth, Beethoven and the World in 1824, by Harvey Sach reminded me of how much I love Beethoven. I have a Bachelor of Music degree and when I studied Music History in college and sat through music theory and style classes, Beethoven was and still is one of my favorite composers.

The premier of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in 1824 was financed by Beethoven himself. His net income, sorely needed, from the concert would have just about covered rent for a month and yet the impact of this event was colossal when looking back with a twenty-first century perspective. Harvey Sachs has written a reflective history along with his opinion of the world that surrounded Beethoven during the year when The Ninth Symphony premiered in Vienna. The artists Byron, Pushkin, Delacroix, Heine and Stendahl who lived during this Romantic Age, were Beethoven’s contemporary creative companions and they shared his world stage. Sachs links them together in his book with what he says was their “quest for freedom.” Sachs compares their work and their philosophies of the world, the world as Beethoven knew when The Ninth Symphony was heard for the first time.

As Beethoven would have wanted, this book is for all to appreciate. A meritorious and philosophically meaningful book. It reads like you have opened a time capsule that looks upon the early 19th century cultural stage.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2011].
  WisteriaLeigh | Jan 22, 2011 |
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An analysis of Beethoven's seminal Ninth Symphony identifies it as a key cultural event that reflected major social upheavals, including the emergence of a dynamic Western world and changes in philosophical perspectives on individuality.

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