Beethoven {Free eBook}

Beethoven {Free eBook}
Beethoven {Free eBook}

Here is a biography of Beethoven written by Nobel Prize for Literature winner Romain Rolland that is an accessible and interesting read — and free!

The book was published near the end of the first World War, which may explain the tone of the book. The theme of the author’s take on Beethoven’s life can be summed up by Beethoven’s own summary of his life: Joy Through Suffering.

His whole life is like a stormy day. At the beginning—a fresh clear morning, perhaps a languid breeze, scarcely a breath of air. But there is already in the still air a secret menace, a dark foreboding. Large shadows loom and pass; tragic rumblings; murmuring awesome silences; the furious gusts of the winds of the Eroica and the C minor. However, the freshness of the day is not yet gone. Joy remains joy; the brightness of the sky is not overcast; sadness is never without a ray of hope. But after 1810 the poise of the soul is disturbed. A strange light glows. Mists obscure his deepest thoughts; some of the clearer thoughts appear as vapour rising; they disappear, are dispelled, yet form anew; they obscure the heart with their melancholy and capricious gloom; often the musical idea seems to vanish entirely, to be submerged, but only to re-appear again at the end of a piece in a veritable storm of melody. Even joy has assumed a rough and riotous character. A bitter feeling becomes mingled in all his sentiments. Storms gather as evening comes on. Heavy clouds are big with tempests. Lightning flashes o’er the black of night. The climax of the hurricane is approaching. Suddenly, at the height of the tempest, the darkness is dispersed. Night is driven away and the clear, tranquil atmosphere is restored by a sheer act of will power. What a conquest was this! What Napoleonic battle can be likened to it? What was Austerlitz glory to the radiance of this superhuman effort, this victory, the most brilliant that has ever been won by an infirm and lonely spirit. Sorrow personified, to whom the world refused joy, created joy himself to give to the world. He forged it from his own misery, as he proudly said in reviewing his life.

This passage will give you the flavor of the book. You may recognize opportunities for discussion with older children. Nevertheless, Beethoven is a very well-written and honest look at the composer’s life. It predates Rolland’s epic biography, Beethoven the Creator.

The book includes several of Beethoven’s letters, quotations, a brief analysis of his symphonies and sonatas, and a complete list of his works.

You’ll also appreciate the bibliography at the end if you are ready for more.

We have added this biography to our free music unit. Enjoy!

Free eBook

Additional Resources

Free Music Studies: Ludwig van Beethoven
The Beethoven part of our free music studies.

First Studies in Music Biography {Free eBook}
Another free eBook that will provide a reference resource.

Free Music Studies: Child’s Own Book of Great Musicians
The entire series.