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Fishman, G.G. (1983). American Imago. XXXVI, 1979: Biography of a Composer. Siegmund Levarie. Pp. 313-327.. Psychoanal Q., 52:148-148.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XXXVI, 1979: Biography of a Composer. Siegmund Levarie. Pp. 313-327.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:148-148

American Imago. XXXVI, 1979: Biography of a Composer. Siegmund Levarie. Pp. 313-327.

George G. Fishman

The author poses a central issue in his critique of Maynard Solomon's biography of Beethoven: What difference does the reality of the composer's life make to understanding his art? Thayer, the preeminent Beethoven biographer, evaded it by compiling an encyclopedia of facts without interpretation; Elliott expanded on Thayer. According to Levarie, Solomon has finally written a cautious approach to the artist's inner life. However, he too has dealt with Beethoven's music as an appendix to the chapters of his everyday, albeit inner, life. The author states that "the true object of imitation in music, unlike that in all the other arts, is not taken from either external or internal features of earthly life." He argues that Beethoven's last quartets themselves offer more insight into Beethoven's character than all the details of his driven concern over his nephew Karl. However, Levarie is also critical of Solomon for not making clearer the identity of various persons, for example Franz Wegeler, and he is appreciative of the documentation supporting Antonie Brentano as the Immortal Beloved. It seems that the author clings rather fixedly to a romantic ideal as a defense against the subtleties of his own piercing question. For it appears that careful students of esthetics, like the author himself, who work against the reductionism of art into anything else, still find themselves preoccupied with date, place, anecdote, and even quirk or symptom. The real problem is explaining that very paradoxical fact.

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Article Citation

Fishman, G.G. (1983). American Imago. XXXVI, 1979. Psychoanal. Q., 52:148-148

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