The Beethoven Obsession

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More About This Title The Beethoven Obsession


A fast-paced drama of frustration, envy, rivalry, struggle and success, this work tells the story of the intertwined lives of four people: Ludwig von Beethoven; a concert pianist who was a self-taught child prodigy; a fanatical inventor who disassembled pianos as a child; and a television cameraman who became a music entrepreneur in order to translate the music he loved into the first recording of Beethoven’s music captured wholly on an Australian grand piano. This unorthodox and historic odyssey makes for an ideal read for anyone with an interest in classical music or the culture of Australia.


Brendan Ward is a former cinematographer and producer of television shows and documentaries.


"Here is the classic story of success against all odds but with a remarkable twist that takes the reader into unexplored territory." —Gerald Stone

"A magnificent journey … a very Australian story and yet also universal." —Michael Kirby

"This is a story of not one but four obsessives: a concert pianist, a would-be pianist (the author), a piano-builder and the master composer, Beethoven himself. Their lives intertwine in surprising and intriguing ways, across the centuries and across the oceans. From Vienna to the Tasmanian wilderness, from Kingaroy in Queensland to Tilburg in the Netherlands, this intricately researched tale of obsession with pianos and piano music carries a wealth of human interest and musical intrigue. Ward achieves at least three remarkable things in this book. First, using direct, authentic and uncomplicated language, he manages to explore some extremely deep aspects of musical performance and interpretation that in less caring hands become mired in complexity. Second, in exploring his own fixation with Beethoven’s piano music, he manages to weave an entertaining fabric made not from his own life, but more significantly from the important people and influences in it. Third, Ward doesn’t hesitate to include opinions and reactions opposing his own, establishing his value as a true and selfless chronicler. Aside from all that, it’s simply a great read." —Carl Vine, composer, pianist and Artistic Director of Musica Viva Australia