Sunday, January 13, 2013

All Praise Joseph Kerman!

The Seer of Cleveland asks, "Inspired by your ongoing Schroedinger's Cat course, I recently finished listening to all of Beethoven's piano sonatas. I plan to listen to all of his symphonies before the course ends. (The string quartets will be next).

"Leon Botstein recently recommended several books about Beethoven in the Wall Street Journal (scroll down for the sidebar) but I noticed he did not mention the Maynard Solomon biography, which I had planned to read. What is your favorite Beethoven book/book about Beethoven?"
This question made me feel good.  I love the opportunity to talk about one of my very favorite books, The Beethoven Quartets by Joseph Kerman.  In the early 80's I remember looking through the music section of the Arizona State Bookstore and I saw The Composer's Advocate by Erich Leinsdorf.  It looked fascinating to me, so I checked and found that the library had a copy of it.  I read it over and over again and loved it.

Fast forward to the end of 1990.  I've started taking ballet classes, which leads me to listen to more classical music, which leads me to reread Leinsdorf.  He mentions Joseph Kerman's book The Beethoven Quartets, so I check it out from the ASU library.  It turns my head around.  Kerman combines deep musical analysis with psychological understanding and historical perspective.  His book helped me listen to the quartets more deeply, and listening to the quartets more led to reread his book, and rereading his book gave me even more insights into the quartets.  This recursive process has continued for the past 22 years.

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