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Wurmser, L. (1979). Idealization and Aggression in Beethoven's Creativity. Am. Imago, 36(4):328-344B.

(1979). American Imago, 36(4):328-344B

Idealization and Aggression in Beethoven's Creativity

Leon Wurmser, M.D.

Mankind has lost its dignity, but art has rescued it and preserved it in meaningful stones; truth lives on in deception, and out of the after image the original image is restored… Live with your century, but do not be its creature; create for your contemporaries, but what they need, not what they praise… Chase out arbitrariness, frivolousness, crudeness from their entertainment… Where you find them, surround them with noble, great, spiritual forms, enclose them with the symbols of excellence until appearance triumphs over reality and art over nature.

(Schiller. On the Esthetic Education of Man, 9th letter)

Solomon's biography of Beethoven is a cultural event of great import. First of all, it is a solid piece of work, not merely integrating a huge amount of data; it also ferrets out hidden strands leading to his surprising discovery—the identity of the “Immortal Beloved.” Second, it employs the combination of aesthetic, historical, psychoanalytic and sociological methods towards a deeper comprehension of work and personality in creativity. Third, it offers a creative synthesis which grips and inspires the reader in its own right.

It is this “gripping” and “inspiring” in the reader, the observer, the auditor, and the continued recurrence and deepening of this effect each time the exposure to a great work of creativity is repeated which I take as the starting point for this inquiry. It will support the main theme: the study of idealization and aggression in creativity, as stimulated by Solomon's work. I shall end with a clinical coda.

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