Beethoven: The Relentless Revolutionary

There have been many books written about classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s life and musical career. My own collection includes volumes by A.W. Thayer and Maynard Solomon, Harold C. Schonberg’s analysis in “The Lives of the Great Composers,” and Russell Martin’s quirky but entertaining “Beethoven’s Hair.”

When it comes to non-musical topics such as Beethoven’s political ideals, the treasure chest is surprisingly bare. A tiny handful of academic studies exist, Solomon lightly tackled it, and authors like Schonberg have made fleeting references. But it appears that scholars prefer to let Beethoven’s music be his only muse.

John Clubbe’s “Beethoven: The Relentless Revolutionary” is the first attempt to shift mild curiosity surrounding the composer’s politics into a crescendo of intellectual study. An author who taught English at Duke University and the University of Kentucky, he regards himself as a cultural historian rather than musicologist.

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