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Jan Swafford's biographies of Charles Ives and Johannes Brahms have established him as a revered music historian, capable of bringing his subjects vibrantly to life. His magnificent new biography of Ludwig van Beethoven peels away layers of legend to get to the living, breathing human being who composed some of the world's most iconic music. Swafford mines sources never before used in English-language biographies to reanimate the revolutionary ferment of Enlightenment-era Bonn, where Beethoven grew up and imbibed the ideas that would shape all of his future work. Swafford then tracks his subject to Vienna, capital of European music, where Beethoven built his career in the face of critical incomprehension, crippling ill health, romantic rejection, and "fate's hammer," his ever-encroaching deafness. Throughout, Swafford offers insightful readings of Beethoven's key works.

More than a decade in the making, this will be the standard Beethoven biography for years to come.

About the Author

Jan Swafford

Jan Swafford is a composer and writer. His musical works range from orchestral and chamber to film and theater music, including four pieces for orchestra, Midsummer Variations for piano quintet, They That Mourn for piano trio, They Who Hunger for piano quartet, From the Shadow of the Mountain for string orchestra and the theatrical work, Iphigenia, for choir, instruments and a narrator. Swafford's music has been played around the country and abroad by ensembles including the symphonies of Indianapolis, St. Louis, Harrisburg, Springfield, Jacksonville, Chattanooga and the Dutch Radio. Among his honors are a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Composers Grant and two Massachusetts Artists Council Fellowships. His work appears on CRI recordings and is published by Peer Southern. From 1999-2002, he was Composer-in-Residence of Market Square Concerts in Harrisburg. Swafford holds degrees in music from Harvard and Yale. His teachers have included Jacob Druckman, Earl Kim and, at Tanglewood, Betsy Jolas. From 1988-1989 he was a Mellon Faculty Fellow at Harvard. Swafford currently teaches music history, theory and composition at The Boston Conservatory. As a musical journalist and scholar, Swafford has appeared in Slate, Guardian International, Gramophone, Symphony and 19th-Century Music. He has written program notes for the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) , the Chicago and San Francisco Symphonies, Chamber Music at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall programs and Naxos and Sony Classical Recordings. Since 1998, he has participated in musical features on Nation Public Radio (NPR's) Performance Today and Morning Edition, and he is a regular preconcert lecturer for the BSO. His books include The Vintage Guide to Classical Music and the biographies, Charles Ives: A Life with Music from Norton (nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award, winner of the PEN/Winship prize) and Johannes Brahms: A Biography from Knopf. Currently, Swafford is writing a biography of Beethoven for Houghton Mifflin.

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