Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Beethoven as I Knew Him, by Anton Schindler.

I sure did enjoy this more than the Kinderman book.

Anton Schindler was Beethoven's amanuensis for the final several years of his life, so we're dealing with a man who actually knew Beethoven very personally. No modern scholarship can possibly touch this for the anecdotes about Beethoven, his personality, and the times in which he lived (Having to run everything past, "the Censor" was something I had never considered).

Problem is, Schindler seems to have been a flawed character himself, and he got many things wrong because he wrote the book years after Beethoven had died, and so much of the original source material was no longer available to him. He also covered for Beethoven vis-a-vis his character flaws, so there is an air of hagiography here.

Fortunately, there are annotations by a later Beethoven scholar to correct the factual errors, but that scholar comes off as a bit of a prick too, and I think he maligned Schindler a few times. So, read all the annotations, but be a little skeptical about things like the charges that Schindler edited the conversation books Beethoven used to communicate. This seems ridiculous on its face.


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