Kopelson's sense of humor is very entertaining. I am quite new to the field of musicology, and this "New Musicology" is a mystery to me. I feel that this book helped to shed a little light on that. Yes, this book is a sort-of self-help manual. But, it is more than that. It is simultaneously a study of amateurism and its relationship to sexual repugnance and an equating of virtuosity with sexiness.
The title of the book belies its subject. The word "Beethoven" is thrown in, undoubtedly, to boost sales. The book focuses more on Liszt and Chopin. He explains the attraction of Liszt due to his "manliness" and his expert pianism, while Chopin is attractive due to his better skills at composition. Thus, the two composers, in what I think is Kopelson's divine moment, are musically equal in their differences.
The style is smart, witty and simple -- meaning Kopelson seems to write like he would speak. But, I don't know for sure; I've never met the guy. But, if this is so, then he must be incredibly interesting.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The only reason I took away a star is because the queer humour was often over my head, and too often, through fault of my own, I did not know of a musicologist or pianist to whom Kopelson was referring. But I'm sure I will continue increasingly to appreciate this book as I advance in my studies.