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Ehrenwald, J. (1979). Symposium on Beethoven: Hero and Anti-Hero. Am. Imago, 36(4):301-304.

(1979). American Imago, 36(4):301-304

Symposium on Beethoven: Hero and Anti-Hero

Jan Ehrenwald, M.D.

To begin with, I want to express my admiration for Maynard Solomon's book. It is a scholarly labor of love, with a well-balanced psychohistoric, psychoanalytic and musicological approach. I also like its terse, laconic title: Beethoven. No subtitle, no frills, no references to a Young or Old, or Unconscious Beethoven or to his Spiritual Development (Sullivan); no special emphasis on Beethoven and his Nephew, (E. and R. Sterba). The fact is that Solomon's book contains all this rolled into one—and some more.

There are three major contributions to Beethoven scholarship that are entirely Solomon's own: (1) the discovery of Beethoven's family romance and of its profound impact on his personal and artistic development; (2) his painstaking research into the identity of Beethoven's Immortal Beloved, and the analysis of the apparent reasons for his headlong flight from Antonie Brentano as soon as she was ready to respond to his advances; (3) his penetrating analysis of Beethoven's musical output. It is a unique blend of a musicological and psychoanalytic approach with benefit to both disciplines.

Turning our attention to Beethoven's Family Romance, the available evidence is beyond dispute. Nonetheless, one may well ask whether or not it was solely determined by Beethoven's grandiosity or his oedipal conflict—by the need to escape from his incestuous and patricidal fantasies.

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