Combining musical insight with the most recent research, William Kinderman's Beethoven is both a richly drawn portrait of the man and a guide to his music. Kinderman traces the composer's intellectual and musical development from the early works written in Bonn to the Ninth Symphony and the late quartets, looking at compositions from different and original perspectives that show Beethoven's art as a union of sensuous and rational, of expression and structure. In analyses of individual pieces, Kinderman shows that the deepening of Beethoven's musical thought was a continuous process over decades of his life. In this new updated edition, Kinderman gives more attention to the composer's early chamber music, his songs, his opera Fidelio, and to a number of often-neglected works of the composer's later years and fascinating projects left incomplete. A revised view emerges from this of Beethoven's aesthetics and the musical meaning of his works. Rather than the conventional image of a heroic and tormented figure, Kinderman provides a more complex, more fully rounded account of the composer.
Although Beethoven's deafness and his other personal crises are addressed, together with this ever-increasing commitment to his art, so too are the lighter aspects of his personality: his humor, his love of puns, his great delight in juxtaposing the exalted and the commonplace.