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The Resource Conversations with Beethoven, Sanford Friedman ; introduction by Richard Howard

Conversations with Beethoven, Sanford Friedman ; introduction by Richard Howard

Label
Conversations with Beethoven
Title
Conversations with Beethoven
Statement of responsibility
Sanford Friedman ; introduction by Richard Howard
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Just before his death, Sanford Friedman completed this, his final novel, something entirely different from anything he, or for that matter anyone, had written before - Conversations with Beethoven, a moving meditation on greatness and pettiness, vulnerability and genius, that is as elegiac as it is witty and engaging
Member of
Storyline
Writing style
Character
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Confronted by a furious madman, shouting incomprehensible questions about a missing nephew, the hospital doctor is incredulous: “You—surely you are not the great Beethoven?” But it is indeed the great Beethoven who emerges in Friedman’s posthumously published novel, daringly conceived as fragmentary exchanges between the aging genius and interlocutors who commit their words to quarto-writing booklets, made necessary by the composer’s deafness. These shards of dialogue place considerable interpretive demands on the reader, yet meeting those demands helps readers understand just how hard life was for Beethoven during his last year. Readers see up close how a heroic romantic struggles to wrest from his powerful imagination one last work—a proposed oratorio about Saul and David—while battling debilitating illness, painful yet ineffectual medical treatments, financial strains, and arduous travel. Hopes for soaring harmonies incubate beneath Beethoven’s haunting memories of his brother’s death and his acute awareness of his own bloody sputum and swollen limbs. But nothing distresses Beethoven more than the unpredictable—even suicidal—impulses of the nephew who has become his ward and heir. In Beethoven’s mercurial relationship with his ward, readers see exposed the musical artist’s deepest vulnerabilities, his most lacerating frustrations. A compelling narrative of a titan’s final struggles. -- Christensen, Bryce (Reviewed 10-01-2014) (Booklist, vol 111, number 3, p30)
  • /* Starred Review */ This novel was the last completed by Friedman (Totempole ) before his death in 2010, and a perfect grasp of ebbing mortality, in all its tedium and elusive clarity, informs the depiction of Beethoven’s final year. When the book opens, the composer is already so deaf that friends and family communicate with him largely through pencil and paper; the narrative consists solely of snippets of dialogue. The speakers include Beethoven’s protégé Holz, his despised sister Johanna, and his patronizing brother Johann, while Beethoven remains largely silent, save for a handful of letters. The man that emerges, as though in relief, is a declining and paranoid crank. Initially he is seen trying to protect his troubled nephew Karl from the aftermath of a botched suicide attempt. He goes on to live in near-captivity on his brother’s estate and, increasingly paranoid, enlists a servant’s help in spying on his supposed enemies. Finally, the reader sees the collapse of Beethoven’s health and his agonized attempts to parcel out his estate. The novel’s brilliance lies in the discovery of the flawed human behind immortal genius: Friedman’s Beethoven is just like us. (Sept.) --Staff (Reviewed July 7, 2014) (Publishers Weekly, vol 261, issue 27, p)
  • In his final work, Friedman (Totempole ), who taught creative writing at Juilliard, captures the months before Ludwig van Beethoven's March 1827 death in a narrative made up of sentence fragments. Near destitute and ill for years, Beethoven was also increasingly deaf before he died and communicated with visitors by responding verbally to queries and remarks they wrote in notebooks. Some of these journals survive, and, along with select letters, serve as the basis of Friedman's novel. Here, as the composer's physical and mental health deteriorate, he becomes paranoid and emotionally manipulative, leaning desperately on friends, doctors, and remaining family yet rejecting them again and again. Central to Beethoven's arduous journey toward death is his relationship with his nephew, a young man trapped within the bottomless needs of his famous uncle. Throughout, the depiction of early 1800s Vienna has a familiar ring, filled as it is with both celebrities and wannabes who sound contemporary. VERDICT Friedman successfully frames a picture of Beethoven's turbulent genius and the conflict that arises from having fame without fortune. Readers interested in the portrayal of such lives may enjoy this fictionalized notebook.— Susanne Wells, Indianapolis P.L. --Susanne Wells (Reviewed September 15, 2014) (Library Journal, vol 139, issue 15, p65)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10356349
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1928-2010
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Friedman, Sanford
Dewey number
813/.54
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
Series statement
New York Review Books classics
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • Composers
  • Composers
  • Germany
Label
Conversations with Beethoven, Sanford Friedman ; introduction by Richard Howard
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1065355
Dimensions
21 cm.
Extent
x, 285 pages
Isbn
9781590177624
Isbn Type
(Paperback)
Lccn
2014013610
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other control number
40023995574
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9781590177624
  • (OCoLC)865158062
Label
Conversations with Beethoven, Sanford Friedman ; introduction by Richard Howard
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1065355
Dimensions
21 cm.
Extent
x, 285 pages
Isbn
9781590177624
Isbn Type
(Paperback)
Lccn
2014013610
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other control number
40023995574
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9781590177624
  • (OCoLC)865158062

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      710 W. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, 78701, US
      30.2713021 -97.7460168
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