The Next Beethoven
David Green is a talented pianist dwelling in the large shadow of his late father. David lost his father in his early years and became a piano prodigy shortly thereafter. A normal life was not in the offing, as he was homeschooled while he perfected his talents through competitions. David has his sights set on composing modern music to perform. The music of the Romantic period holds great aesthetic value to him, to the point of his shunning any other period. He is in a long-term relationship with Heather. Heather is involved in psychology studies, with an eye towards evaluating suicidal behavior. David clashes with Heather’s father over the path of David’s career, as David doesn’t want to sell out in order to achieve fame and fortune. This, along with David’s irascible feelings towards modern musicians, has strained his relationships.
Determined to start a second renaissance, David looks for other like-minded artists to form a group. He puts the word out and is soon joined by Jeff, Tyler, Dan, and Shelly. They each bring their own talent and single-mindedness towards eschewing modernity in favor of true artistry. Poetry, architecture, and design are among the skills showcased by David’s new confederates. They meet and discuss common ground and look to collaborate on a project. The pall cast over New York in the first years after 9/11 is still noticeable, and this becomes the first project of the group. However, the cohesiveness of the group begins to fall apart as Jeff becomes obsessed with the literature and philosophy of Ayn Rand. Her world narrative captivates formerly shy Jeff and alienates him from others. He is soon gone from the group. David’s disdain for sell-outs, alleged or otherwise, leads him to cast Dan out once he sees a design Dan created for an art gallery. As the Second Renaissance concludes in acrimony and failed dreams, David spirals into an emotional abyss.
Heather witnesses David becoming unglued, drinking too much and disregarding everything. He attempts to get help, but a psychologist rebuffs him for an unknown reason. The mind of a prodigy risks complete unraveling, where will he turn? Can he find redemption?
The Next Beethoven strikes a deep and distinct chord with the reader. The topic of mental illness is explored in all complexity and emotion. David is not always an easy person to like, yet the reader sympathizes with his plight. The author writes his characters deftly and compassionately. This is an emotional roller coaster of a read. A-plus work.
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