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Why Beethoven

A Phenomenon in 100 Pieces

Norman Lebrecht

Without Beethoven, music as we know it wouldn’t exist.

There’d be no Wagner, Verdi, Mahler, Nina Simone, Michael Jackson, down to cello-playing Ed Sheeran. Norman Lebrecht asks: why? Who was this titan of world culture? In 100 recordings, freely available on Idagio and YouTube, Lebrecht brings to life the composer as we’ve never seen him before. Unruly, offensive and hopeless in his housekeeping, yes, but driven to a fault and devoted to his art: conquering deafness to pen the Missa Solemnis.

Along the way, we encounter Beethoven’s performers across the centuries, in their glories and in their foibles. In this salacious and salutary biography, Beethoven emerges as the cornerstone of the world as we know it.

  • Publication date: February 2, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780861544547
  • RRP: £10.99
  • Pages: 336


‘The greatest artists repay a lifetime of study. Now Norman Lebrecht has given us a lambent summing up of his adventures with Beethoven, deeply personal yet grounded in music that we know and love, inspiring readers to offer their own answers to the question “Why Beethoven?”’

Tim Page, winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for his music criticism in the Washington Post

‘Riveting, gossipy, action-packed.’

Financial Times on Genius and Anxiety

‘Norman Lebrecht has a rare ability to evoke the past with the immediacy of a good journalist, broadcaster, novelist or blogger.’

Jewish Chronicle

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is the author of twelve works of non-fiction, including Genius and Anxiety, also published by Oneworld, and the international bestsellers The Maestro MythWhy Mahler? and The Life and Death of Classical Music, which have been translated into seventeen languages. His first novel, The Song of Names, won a Whitbread Award and is now an award-winning film. He writes for the Spectator and the Wall Street Journal, and is working on his fourth novel. He lives in London. @NLebrecht

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