Alexander Wheelock Thayer's Life of Beethoven. has long been recognized as the classic biography of Beethoven. "Thayer, with his calm and logical mind, scrupulous, magnanimous and spacious...had set out to describe for posterity the great man as he was and lived...and his patient realism and all but inexhaustible industry had created an irreplaceable and masterly portrait." So Van Wyck Brooks described this monumental work of the 1880's.
Thayer talked with Beethoven's surviving friends, gathered anecdotes, and sifted hundreds of documents. The resulting wealth of detail stimulated other students, and a mass of Beethoven scholarship appeared. Now Elliot Forbes, one of the foremost Beethoven scholars of our time, has used this new material to bring the Life up to elate without sacrificing Thayer's text.
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Alexander Wheelock Thayer's Life of Beethoven has long been regarded as the classic biography of Beethoven. Thayer's approach to biography was to present in chronological order the factual evidence concerning Beethoven, the man and his work, and to eliminate the analysis and aesthetic evaluation of the music. To gather the material necessary for such an undertaking, he went to Europe; there, he spent most of his life seeking out those persons still alive who had known Beethoven and studying the sources that were available. His biography succeeded in clearing away the romantic fiction that was then, in the 1870's, current and gave for the first time a full account of the composer's life which was based on reliable, historical method.Review:
"A model of objective biography, one that is amazingly modern and as valuable today as when it was written. . . . Thayer's Life remains the definitive biography."--The New York Times
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