Beethoven Variations


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From the author of the bestselling Darwin- A Life in Poems, Ruth Padel's new collection follows in the footsteps of one of the world's greatest composers, Beethoven, and investigates what his life and music might mean to us today

About the Author

Ruth Padel is a prizewinning poet, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and Professor of Poetry at King's College London. Her recent collections include Darwin- A Life in Poems, on her great-grandfather Charles Darwin; The Mara Crossing, on migration and immigration; Tidings- A Christmas Journey, and Emerald, a poignant elegy for her mother. She lives in London.


How to uncover from biographical details the mystery that is music? With precision, heart-breaking beauty and lyric insight, Ruth Padel performs a miracle: Beethoven comes alive before us, the son of a drunk, who became a genius, and lost everything, and found his way back to the center. And here we are, following Padel's own genius for composing the music of a story via lyrical means. You will find your heart shored up / by meeting the trapped brilliance of his eyes, she writes. Indeed -- Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
Vividly beautiful * BBC *
Poetry, biography, music and memoir collide in this wonderful collection from Ruth Padel... A tender and evocative portrait of the man and his music, and most of all the profound ways it affects listeners and performers * Tatler *
Padel's imagery and imagination took me deeper into Beethoven than many biographies I've read... Padel knows her history. But a poet is free to inhabit her subject and elaborate on the record -- Anthony Tommasini * New York Times *
What a wonderful and unusual idea. Ruth Padel writes with true passion; her love for, and understanding of, the man and his music shine through each poem -- Steven Isserlis, cellist
Beethoven's music encompasses the entire blinding spectrum of human thought and emotion, from violent to ethereal, from chaos to sublimity. Ruth Padel's poems encompass that uncontainable spirit to an astounding degree, and preserve the primal shock of our first hearing -- Alex Ross, author of The Rest is Noise, music critic of the New Yorker
Breathtaking -- Paul Griffiths * Times Literary Supplement *

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