In 1823 Beethoven received a commission to write a biblical oratorio in the United States. How could this have worked?*
* As Beethoven wrestles with his muse, and his librettist Rev. Ballou, he comes to rely on two women. Thankful, who conducts his conversations using Martha’s Vineyard sign language, and a kindred spirit: the widow Mrs. Hill. Meanwhile all Boston waits in anxious expectation of a first performance the composer, and the world, will never hear.
Variously admonishing the amateur music society and laughing in the company of his hosts’ children, the immortal composer is brought back to the fullness of life. Griffiths (former music critic: The New Yorker; The New York Times. Author: let me tell you; Modern Music And After) invents only what is strictly possible. His historiography weaves through the text in counterpoint, revealing the fragility of the traces he uses to give Mr. Beethoven seven more years.