Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Beethoven, Master Musician is an imaginative re-creation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s life in narrative form. Though highly fictionalized, the biography does incorporate the general facts of Beethoven’s life as they are known from his letters and diaries, as well as from other biographies. The author, Madeleine Goss, uses historical material as the basis for her story, but she also reinvents a number of conversations that either did occur or may well have occurred. She quotes directly from many of Beethoven’s own letters; these passages, in translation, provide further insight into the composer’s thoughts and motivations at each stage of his life. The result is a fanciful and idealized, though largely consistent, portrait of Beethoven as a difficult individual who was victimized by his family but who, through his own genius and perseverance, became an unparalleled composer and pianist.

In twenty chapters, Goss describes both the talent of Beethoven and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that he had to overcome. To a large extent, obstacles in Beethoven’s life were created by those who were closest to him. His father was an alcoholic who wasted his own talent and treated his son solely as a source of additional income. His brothers took Beethoven for granted, making his life miserable by frequently demanding, or simply taking, most of his money. In his later years, the composer’s nephew proved to be an additional burden through his ingratitude and the shame of his attempted suicide.

More familiar to the young reader will be...

(The entire section is 642 words.)