The Beethoven Obsession tells the story of how the greatest piano music ever written acquired a unique Australian voice, played on a revolutionary grand piano that shook up the conservative music establishment.
It is a fast-paced drama of frustration, envy, rivalry, struggle and success, starring a self-taught child prodigy who sold condoms and contraband to advance his studies; a fanatical inventor who took apart pianos as a child to examine their ‘gizzards’; and a TV cameraman who became a music entrepreneur to translate the music he loved into an Australian first.
Their unorthodox, historic odyssey created multi-award-winning, best-selling albums and changed their lives forever.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
Brendan Ward never does things by halves. I know this, because we were briefly colleagues and I've witnessed his uncompromising intensity and dedication first hand. Still, he does not expect more of others than he does of himself. I never knew that Beethoven mattered to him to such a degree, thanks to his mother's passion, which she passed on to her only son from the earliest age, when he learned the piano in a modest Queensland home.
Now Ward tells the surprising story of where this obsession has led him: into a seemingly crazy project to record all of Beethoven's piano sonatas with an Australian pianist on a unique Australian made piano. It's a terrific yarn about so much more than music: it's about friendship, audacity, vision and innovation. It's about why some dreams fail but are worth dreaming anyway. It's about how the spirit of the Olympics lit more than one torch, allowing us for a moment to think bigger, better, bolder, before spluttering out, extinguished by cold realities.
With characteristic commitment and willingness to embrace the newest methods, Ward has also produced a richly curated e-book version which includes one hundred music files and images, making it a great gift for anyone who loves classical music and technology.
About the Author
Brendan Ward spent much of his working life in the film and television industry. His obsession with Beethoven's piano works has resulted in an award-winning series of classical bestsellers.
"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
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 1st August 2013
Publisher: UNSW Press
Dimensions (cm): 21.0 x 13.5 x 2.8
Weight (kg): 0.36