Episode 5

“There is only one Beethoven”

Everybody knows the Beethoven story: He’s a brilliant composer who faced hearing loss; a genius who couldn’t listen to his own masterpieces. But there’s a different way to consider the story we think we know.

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Thank you to Matthew Winn, director of the Listen Lab at the University of Minnesota, for his expertise on the fundamentals and realities of hearing loss. Portions of this episode were produced using audio samples from the Listen Lab. Thanks to Professor Steven Whiting from the University of Michigan School of Music.


This episode of Decomposed includes the following works from these recordings:

Ludwig van Beethoven: Fur Elise
Balazs Szokolay, piano
Naxos 8.550647
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 14 “Moonlight”: I & III
Paavali Jumppanen, piano
Ondine 1280
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5: I. Allegro con brio
Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Richard Edlinger
Naxos 8.550289
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9: II. Molto vivace
Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus conducted by Richard Edlinger
Naxos 8.550181
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Domenico Scarlatti: Sonata for Harpsichord in G
Joseph Payne, harpsichord
Bis 499
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 “Hammerklavier”: I. Allegro
Alfred Brendel, piano
Musical Concepts ALC1135
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas
SFS 58

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7: I. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
Westphalia New Philharmonic Orchestra
SM148
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 8 “Pathetique”: I. Gave – Allegro di molto e con brio
Jeno Jando, piano
Naxos 8.550045
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2: I. Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bertrand de Billy
Ohems Classics 673
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 26 “Les adieux”
Jeno Jando, piano
Naxos 8.55054
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3: IV. Finale
Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Richard Edlinger
Naxos 8.550178
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5: I & IV
Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Richard Edlinger
Naxos 8.550289
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9: IV. Finale
Budapest Choir and Hungarian National Orchestra Conducted by Janos Ferencik
HRC115
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 4: IV. Allegro ma non troppo
Philharmonia Cassovia conducted by Johannes Wehner
Amadis 7092
Courtesy of Naxos of America Inc.


Further reading:

  • Hearing Beethoven: A Story of Musical Loss and Discovery by Robin Wallace

  • Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

  • The Mysteries of Beethoven's Hair by Russell Martin

  • Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph by Jan Swafford

  • Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris

  • Beethoven’s Letters with explanatory notes by Dr. A.C. Kalischer, edited by A. Eaglefield-Hull

  • Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood

  • Beethoven: The Man Revealed by John Suchet

  • The Critical Reception of Beethoven's Compositions by His German Contemporaries, vol. 2, edited by Wayne M. Senner, Robin Wallace and William Meredith


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