In Search of Beethoven (2009)

In Search of Beethoven



Critic Consensus: With a wealth of insightful talking heads and deft musical performances, In Search of Beethoven is a thorough, thoughtful examination of the great composer's life and times.

Movie Info

"In Search of Beethoven": takes a comprehensive look at the composer's life through historical research and Beethoven's biography and letters, but with the emphasis always on the performance -- and interpretation -- of Beethoven's music. From his early piano concertos through the "Moonlight Sonata," "Für Elise," and the immortal notes of the Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, Beethoven's music remains as beloved, popular, and relevant as any work of art has ever been. "In Search of Beethoven" brings … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary
Directed By:
Written By: Phil Grabsky
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 27, 2010
Seventh Art Productions - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for In Search of Beethoven

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (12)

Tells the story of its subject in a clear, accessible, and gimmick-free manner while still preserving, or perhaps even cultivating, a core sense of wonder at the creative monuments he bequeathed to us all.

Full Review… | January 7, 2010
Boston Globe
Top Critic

In Search of Beethoven trudges through the composer's life and works, pausing along the way for the usual smorgasbord of talking heads and performance clips. The results are shapeless, drab and mostly predictable.

Full Review… | December 17, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

With In Search of Beethoven, documentarian Phil Grabsky has created a splendid work that will be a revelation to the uninitiated and a joy to music lovers.

Full Review… | October 30, 2009
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Grabsky's appreciation of Ludwig van Beethoven follows the familiar contours, but it pays attention to the humanizing specifics that bring us closer to the subject.

Full Review… | October 30, 2009
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Grabsky does manage to convey how shockingly dramatic Beethoven's music seemed to the first people who heard it, and the musicians' sensitivity and articulation--both verbal and musical -- fire this chronicle of one man's extraordinary artistic journey.

Full Review… | October 30, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

What made Ludwig such a great musician? The documentary In Search of Beethoven, directed by Phil Grabsky, answers that question reasonably well.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009
New York Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for In Search of Beethoven


"In Search of Beethoven" is a comprehensive look at the famed composer that sets the events of his life within the context of his music and not vice versa. Since it focuses on the compositions of Beethoven, little time is spent examining his childhood. Although I wanted more of the younger years, it makes sense within the context of what the movie is trying to accomplish and I appreciate that film wasn't any longer! 2 hours and 18 minutes was the perfect amount of time to get in depth with the life and music of Beethoven, but any more would have begun to feel tiresome. With over 60 live performances, this film brings the music to life as if we were concertgoers in the early 19th century. While it takes time to interview historians about Beethoven's life, it also interviews expert performers like Emanuel Ax to give a perspective on what it is like to tackle a Beethoven piano concerto or violin sonata. While non-musicians might find this documentary to be a bit dry, it is perfect for performers and appreciators of classical music.

"I have two impressions of Beethoven: a large Brain and an equally large Heart."

"His music is so firmly rooted in everything human; with all of its frailties, weaknesses, and shortcomings. He's perceived, often, as a misanthropic character, but his music is also the music of an inveterate optimist, of someone who never gives up in thinking that men can be better."

"From the pit of despair, Beethoven emerged more defiant."

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