Magazine January 26, 2015, Issue

Beethoven’s ‘Languages’

Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph, by Jan Swafford (Houghton Mifflin, 1,104 pp., $40)

So much has been written about Beethoven that we might approach Jan Swafford’s new biography of him with a what’s-left-to-say skepticism. That would be a mistake. This book offers an unusual richness of detail concerning both Beethoven’s life and his works.

A writer of music when he is not writing books, Swafford analyzes Beethoven’s major compositions with an X-ray ear for thematic, motivic, rhythmic, and key-signature relationships. Many score excerpts support these discussions, and musically trained readers will appreciate Swafford’s sundry insights.

Perhaps for the benefit of untrained readers, who will be skimming these passages anyway, Swafford largely eschews analysis of harmonic

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

What Would Reagan Say?

After narrowly losing the Republican presidential nomination in 1976, Ronald Reagan immediately resumed his newspaper column and radio commentaries. He continued them well into 1979. He used those venues to ...

Features

Politics & Policy

On the Right Track

Miami, like many cities in America, was created by a railroad. Standard Oil founder Henry Flagler cobbled together several existing railroads to make the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway in ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

No ‘Mao Moment’

There’s a longstanding myth among leftist Cold War revisionists that America missed a big chance in July 1944, when eight American diplomats, soldiers, and OSS agents — the “Dixie Mission” ...
Country Life

Closing Time

Farmers and their farm stands are the most obvious candidates for closing. Months ago the first frosts ended most growing, but there was still produce to be sold. Apples and ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

Against a LARC I am writing in regard to Robert VerBruggen’s article, “On a LARC,” in the December 31, 2014, issue of National Review. I would like to thank Mr. VerBruggen for ...
Athwart

The Floppy-Disk Technocracy

Last August the White House announced a new initiative to improve the federal government’s technological infrastructure. You might think this means upgrading all the high-tech computer rooms with 4K monitors ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

TO MY HIKING PARTNER Your pack looks like the one John Denver wore when he was getting Rocky Mountain high. The frame is bent, the straps can’t take much more. Your jeans and flannel ...
Happy Warrior

The Grievance Game

Before Christmas break, law-school students at Harvard, Columbia, and other prestigious institutions insisted that they should be allowed to postpone their exams. Outrage over the Eric Garner and Michael Brown ...

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