Beethoven, Master Musician Essay - Critical Essays

Madeleine Goss


Because Beethoven, Master Musician is intended for a juvenile or young adult audience, Goss has devoted nearly half of the book to the composer’s early years. She discusses the influences upon the young Beethoven—his family, teachers, and personal interests—in a manner that makes it easy for a young audience to identify with the composer. The young Beethoven, Goss suggests, found consolation for his difficulties at school in his own studies of music, his walks through the forest, and in the support of such friends as Franz Wegeler and Breuning.

Indeed, Goss has devoted so much attention to Beethoven’s early years that Beethoven, Master Musician is really a sketch of the major influences upon the composer rather than a detailed biography of his entire life. The strength of the book is its ability to make the reader understand, even sympathize with, Beethoven’s difficult personality. At times, too, Goss traces the inspirations for a number of Beethoven’s compositions to events occurring in the musician’s life. His journey through the Bavarian and Austrian countryside in May, 1787, is thus presented as the inspiration for what would one day be the Sixth Symphony, the Pastorale. His early admiration for, and later disappointment in, Napoleon Bonaparte are seen as sources for the Third Symphony, renamed from the “Buonaparte” to the “Eroica.”

Goss re-creates for a modern audience the unusual atmosphere of Vienna during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At that time,...

(The entire section is 631 words.)