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Beethoven's Shadow (Kindle Single) by [Biss, Jonathan]
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Product Description

Product Description

The American pianist Jonathan Biss is known to audiences throughout the world for his artistry, musical intelligence and deeply felt interpretations.

What is less known until now is that Jonathan Biss writes about music in a most compelling and engaging way. For anyone who has ever enjoyed a Beethoven concert or a Beethoven recording or one of the many films about Beethoven, this Kindle Single is an inspiring reading experience. For those of you who have heard Beethoven in concert or listened to a Beethoven recording, Jonathan Biss takes you behind the scenes of those performances. If your musical interests are much broader than Beethoven or if your interests focus on the creative process , this Single will fully engage you.

“On April 24th, 2007, Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 109 made me lose my mind.”

So Jonathan Biss opens this Single.

He goes on to describe the complex and by no means all positive impact of the technology of the recording process on the experience of performing and listening to music. He also describes the legacy of generations of teachers . You are there when Leon Fleisher teaches Jonathan Biss just as Artur Schnabel taught Leon Fleisher before him. You experience the growth of a talented young musician as he becomes a fully mature artist. Most compelling of all, Jonathan Biss creates an almost spiritual introduction to the making and experiencing of music. He has, in effect, invited the reader into the world of the composer and the performer.

Jonathan Biss includes an annotated audio guide to deepen the experience of any reader who enjoys listening to classical music.

It is an unforgettable experience.

Jonathan Biss has recently begun a nine year project of recording all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas. The first CD of the project with four sonatas will be released by Onyx Classics January 9, 2012.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 194 KB
  • Print Length: 56 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (Dec 14 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MHF95G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,383 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa83ec03c) out of 5 stars 93 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7dedaec) out of 5 stars Shining Light on Beethoven Dec 19 2011
By D. Weisgall - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Biss's writing is brilliantly analytical and full of feeling - like his playing. This essay is many things: it is a meditation on performing, how technique and intellect and emotion combine in the constant striving for a "more perfect" realization of a piece of music; it is a discussion of the differences between playing for a recording and for a live audience, and it is an affectionate look at those pianists who have most influenced Biss' playing. At its heart, it is an eloquent, honest, and often funny account of Biss's own passionate relationship with music, and with Beethoven especially. He tells us, for instance, that he insisted on learning the Appassionata Sonata when he was thirteen and how it required all his strength to get through it, and then he takes us along through the changes in the way he thinks and feels about the piece each time he plays it. His descriptions of specific passages are revelations: how, in Opus 28, for example, Beethoven's "force of will" is "so strong that he only needs a simple harmony to erase the memory of all other music." Jonathan Biss wrote this essay as he embarked on a project to record all thirty-two sonatas. It would be wonderful for us if he were to write notes, personal and full of insight like this essay, to accompany each of those sonatas
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7dedb40) out of 5 stars Beethoven...a brilliantly written account by Jonathon Biss Jan. 1 2012
By R. Nicholson - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Beethoven's Shadow" is a work of non-fiction by author and pianist Jonathan Biss. This is a Kindle e-book that is available from It is a 162 Kb download (about 56 pages) and was priced at $1.99 at the time of writing this review.

30+ yr old author and pianist Jonathan Biss has been playing piano since he's been 10. He's played, studied and admired other composers such as Mozart, Schubert, Brahms etc., but when all is said and done he invariably returns to is first love...Beethoven.

Background... I was attracked to this book for two reasons.
1.) I love Beethoven's music. My first serious contact with classical music was as a late teenager when a roommate played his 5th piano concerto (The Emperor)...I was hooked.
BTW, I'm tone deaf (just ask my Can't play or sing a single note on key, but I've always loved and had a special appreciation for Beethoven's music.

2.) the cover art... a copy of a 1816 manuscript in Beethoven's actual handwriting. This picture brought back memories of when I was reading about Beethoven's life...the music copyists of the time, would often complain bitterly about how difficult it was to accurately make copies of his scores (Beethoven was less than sympathetic)... you can see from this cover just how arduous a task this must have been.

This is a well written and thought out work. It is obviously penned by someone who is intimately familiar with Beethoven's music and able to play the piano at a level only a handful of people might ever achieve. Only a person who absolutely loved what he was doing could write with such passion about a subject, that to this point, has consumed his entire life.

The author briefly discusses, among other things, how his interpretation of any given piece of music has evolved and changed through the years. How he was influenced by respected teachers, old recordings and there is even some philosophical discussions about the unattainable goal in music...perfection, with all its subjective implications.

This is not a book that could appeal to the'd have to have some love (or at least a liking) for classical music. Because of my affection for Beethoven's work, I found the writing, the thoughts, the anguishes, the concerns and focal points that the author presented in this work made perfect, logical sense to me. I became completely immersed and involved with the thoughts and revelations presented here.

An author and pianist that can express himself gracefully in either medium... what a gift!

As it is...5 Stars

Ray Nicholson
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7dede1c) out of 5 stars Illuminating Beethoven Dec 22 2011
By Plif - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jonathan Biss, the latest in the lineage where reverence for the composers' intent was the reigning concern of performing musicians, bridges past and present in his insightful discussion of the monumental task of performing and recording the Beethoven sonatas. Of interest not only to musicians but also to the general audience, and certainly to all of us who have had the good fortune to hear him perform.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7dedd14) out of 5 stars Rare and Revelatory Oct. 29 2012
By Yours Truly - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I learned a lot about Beethoven and his stupendous accomplishments from reading this, but, more importantly, I learned a lot about the work of a top-ranked pianist. Biss is a compelling author, and he reveals what shaped him and his musical abilities as a boy and how ten years out of the conservatory (Curtis) what he considers when he decides what to perform and the commitment it entails. He opened my eyes to the process of recording and how it differs for the musician from performances before an audience. Biss worries that the kind of perfection that can be achieved electronically in the studio contributes to a focus on technical perfection at the expense of expressed passion. We know much more about the work lives of writers, visual artists and actors than we do about pianists (or violinists and other classical musicians.) If more performers wrote about their work with Biss's passion and candor, classical music might have a larger audience.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7dedf00) out of 5 stars The Challenge of Interpreting Beethoven: Portrait of a Maturing Artist Dec 29 2011
By Robert Arnove - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a uniquely intelligent and engaging account of how a prodigious talent wrestles with the monumental challenge of creatively interpreting, in a personally meaningful way, the genius of Beethoven's great piano compositions. As Biss tells his story of recording the complete set of Beethoven Sonatas over a nine-year period, a portrait of the maturing artist emerges. We learn of the various influences on his career and approaches to music making in different contexts - in the stiffness and stillness of the recording studio or in the concert hall interacting with the "emotional resonance" of a responsive audience. "Beethoven's Shadow" is a bravura performance by Jonathan Biss.