There is a lot of choice to be had in Beethoven biographies out there. Starting at the beginning, you can get yourself the memoirs of Schindler or Breuning. And those are super fun if you want to feel for yourself what it was like for others to just be around him – not entirely reliable as to what Beethoven was actually all about, but even when they are deliberately massaging the facts (perhaps especially when) you can tell viscerally his impact on those he came across. More rigorous and easily my favorite is Thayer’s massive biography from the late 19th century (I want to say he wrote it from 1865 to 1886 or so… I could probably look that up for sure, but what fun is that?) It’s the biography that everything after has more or less cowered before, and for damn good reason.
Bringing us to Solomon, whose work on Beethoven became for many the standard late twentieth century biography. I actually like it a lot for the most part, especially once you get past Beethoven’s youth where Solomon is far more speculative, and get into some real historical sleuthing. The section where Solomon susses out the probable identity of the Immortal Beloved is a Whodunnit set piece of the first order that I enjoyed every minute of. But there’s no denying that he gets a little kooky when it comes to sandwiching Freud in wherever he can. My Solomon Beethoven drinking game was to take a shot every time he brought up Beethoven’s misremembering of his birth date as a sign of his Freudian father issues and deep-seated delusional impulses. There are some interesting things to be said on this front, but again, it gets to be a bit much. I read his Mozart biography some years back, and couldn’t finish it because it was sloshing about in the same waters, only with far less subtlety. Or maybe I was just less tolerant of it in my brash youth. I should really go back to that book some day, except for the fact that I finally found a Mozart biography I actually like, and it’s always tempting to just read that one for the third time instead of wading back into the morass.
Oh, right, I was supposed to talk more about ECCC here – which means I’m supposed to have read at least maybe two of the books I picked up from the con in order to review them a bit – which I haven’t – so I… won’t? Tuesday, I promise!! In the meantime, here is my sketch list! I just finished the first set of pencils today, and my goal is to get 4 done a day, so figuring that I’ll get the first batch inked and out tomorrow, Thursday the 7th, you can calculate when you should get yours!
1. The Five Things Challenge
2. HP Minecraft
3. 420 Hitler
4. John Travoltaire
5. Three ECCC Attendees living it up with Tesla
6. Eleanor Roosevelt and Wonder Woman
7. US Grant, Robert E Lee, and Attendee Arm Wrestling
9. Tesla and a Pigeon
10. Abe axeing Pikachu
11. Iron Man and Cap watching tv while munching popcorn
12. Abe Chasing Smurfs
13. Woodrow Wilson Riding a Shark
14. Tesla, T-Rex High 5
15. Troll Attendee
16. Two Doctor Whos Fighting Tumblr
17. Lincoln Chasing Edward
18. Mussolini Pizza Party for One
19. BMO Vomiting Rainbows
20. H.G. Wells and Orson Welles
21. Andrew Jackson fighting a werewolf
22. Ghostbusters FDR, Churchill, Stalin with Hitler Slimer
23. FDR & Chariot Race
24. Abe & Andrew Jackson Kung Fu Fighting
25. Female Dragonborn Character Sketch
– Count Dolby von Luckner