An Audible Original Words + Music

“Beethoven is a humanist, and an arsonist.”

In this vivid and profound addition to Audible’s Words + Music series, Jonathan Biss expounds on the spellbinding hold the classical figure and his work possesses over him. Biss doesn’t just love Beethoven more than other music, he loves it more than most things. It’s the lens through which he understands the world, and has been since he can remember. But in Unquiet, Biss reveals the full extent to which Beethoven is also a ruthless lens through which he views himself. 

Biss provides listeners front and center access to his long overdue confrontation with a painful truth: Living with Beethoven has essentially amounted to severing all meaningful ties with himself. As we learn in rich detail, amidst the treasures Beethoven’s music has gifted Biss also lies searing self-doubt and heaps of crippling anxiety. Biss’ raw self-reflection is delivered through pitch-perfect prose, delving deep into the fascinating paradox that the greatest pleasure in his life is also responsible for imprisoning him. Beethoven’s defining personal characteristic - for example, his unwavering self-conviction and weapons-grade callousness - only served to mock Biss’s own perceived shortcomings and vulnerabilities. This captivating combination of wit and wisdom Biss readily shares is only interrupted by something even more extraordinary - his new interpretations of movements from seven of Beethoven's sonatas, including the "Pathetique" and "Tempest", and his groundbreaking, awe-inducing final sonatas.

Unquiet both begins and ends with Jonathan Biss staring down the daunting complexity and infinite majesty of Beethoven's last piano sonatas. But between these two points, the singular pianist has traversed a world of healing. An immeasurable weight has been lifted from him - by him. And we have witnessed its dramatic rise.