A book on Beethoven - and about Western Classical music

Beethoven and Friends:
By Kishore Chatterjee




Those who are familiar with Western Classical Music in India, will also be familiar with Kishore Chatterjee's 
radio talks about them. He has also anchored various shows on this subject and has also taken part in talks about it at Calcutta University and Jadavpur University, among other places.
His book, Beethoven and Friends, is all about the history of Western Classical history, through the unusual format of stories about those who were a part of it.
I have enjoyed the book as much as I have enjoyed listening to Western Classical music, which is a lot. Music for me has meant peace and relaxation, it has meant a transcendence into a world of joy and blissful sounds. I have never really attempted to understand the nuances of symphonies nor of operas, Mozart and Beethoven were just my lifelong friends who gave me some amazing music.
However, after reading this book, I have begun to pay more attention to what I am listening to, it has made me realise that there is a lot more to it than just the sound of it. His section "Simply About Symphonies"was a pleasure to read since, like the rest of the book,it is written in simple "layman" terms.
About Bach he says:
"Of all the great composers, the life of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is, apparently, the least dramatic. All the drama took place in his mind and was reflected in his music"
All through the book, there are little snippets about the lives of the musicians, and about the history of music. Suddenly, you begin to understand why the tenors are the kings of opera; why the piano was not a part of the orchestra until the Romantic Ages; what were the Gregorian Chants and when was this very spiritual and very mystical music composed ?
If you are an avid fan of Western classical music, and even if you are not, read this book. It will make you want to hear the pieces of music that he describes so eloquently and also to pay a little more attention to what you are listening to.
He is a very good writer and he has put his years of knowledge and experience into a written format, for all of us to peruse and enjoy.

 

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