by David B. Levy
Maynard Solomon. Late Beethoven:
Music, Thought, Imagination. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California
Press, 2003. xi, 327pp.
Maynard Solomon remains one of our most erudite and well-read writers
on Beethoven. The subtitle of this book, however, puts things out of order.
"Imagination" should most decidedly be placed before "Music"
and "Thought," for it is "Imagination" that dominates
the landscape of the prologue and twelve essays that comprise Late Beethoven.
If you are searching for closely detailed analytical studies of Beethoven's
late works, then this is not the book for you. What Solomon instead presents
is a compilation of new essays and revised versions of older ones, each
of which touches on some aspect of Beethoven's creative life between
1812 and his death in 1827. The touchstone for many of the essays is Beethoven's
Tagebuch of 1812–18, a resource whose importance
Solomon has himself explored elsewhere.1 The "late" in its
title, therefore, is used in much the same way one speaks of the "long"
eighteenth century. At its best, this book offers fresh perspectives and
insights into the influences that affected the composer's state
of mind toward the end of his life. At its worst, it is an exercise in