BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139: CONCERTO QUASI UNA FANTASIA – a unique fictional biography of a tormented genius, and more

Posted: October 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

The larger-than-life personality of Ludwig van Beethoven has always been fascinating to me. The bombastic opening to the Fifth Symphony always boosts my mood, as does the soaring Ode to Joy. The fact that this man could write music while unable to physically hear is proof, in my view, that any obstacle can be overcome. The intensity that this titan of music had inside him is next-to-impossible to capture in words.

And yet, there’s one beautifully written work of historical fiction that I am proud to have read, which does so in a masterful manner.

BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139: CONCERTO QUASI UNA FANTASIA may very well be the most unconventional biography of a classical composer that I have ever read. Written by Mr. Howard Jay Smith, the novel starts with the death of Beethoven and his subsequent journey throughout Elysium in pursuit of Isis, his muse, the paragon of womanhood, and guided by Napoleon, who proves to be the Virgil to Beethoven’s Dante in his quest for the one moment of pure joy that he begs from Fate. This is a brilliant manner of framing the story, as it not only serves as a great fantasy sequence, but it gives the reader the opportunity to see Beethoven from a different perspective. I’m quite sure you’ve never heard his story told this way before. You will discover a man of great wit, passion, energy and intensity. A lover of many women, some of whom you’ll meet in the pages of this novel(I loved Josephine Brunsvik for fated symmetry-induced reasons, if you know what I mean, and the intense Antonie Brentano the most), but first and foremost a worshipper of the tremendous power of music and creation, he comes across as a complex, multifaceted and haunted figure as Napoleon gives him glimpses of his past and visions from the future, a future we, mere mortals, could probably not imagine without his iconic pieces.  This is an exquisitely written tribute to perhaps the most powerful musical icon of the classical era, a work unique among the many books written about him. Long live Beethoven, and Mr. Smith! Though I was provided with a copy of the book for review purposes, I do-do-do-do confirm that the views herein are my own! Ten out of five for a solid piece of historical fiction.


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