“ Two lives, the composer’s and her own, interacting in ways that can be bold, breathtaking and on the Eroica, spectacular.”

– Paul Griffiths, Times Literary Supplement

Beethoven Variations is absolutely wonderful! Steeped in the music, and in aspects of his life we maybe never think about – a fascinating summation of Beethoven!’

– Sean Rafferty, In Tune, Radio 3

‘All the poems in Beethoven Variations are vividly beautiful, sparked by sonatas, symphonies and songs’

–  Andrea Valentino, BBC Culture

Ruth on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs, including Beethoven’s string quartet, Opus 132

For media and event enquiries please contact Daniel Kramb at FMcM Associates: [email protected], 020 7405 7422.


Ruth Padel is an award-winning British poet and author. She began life as a classicist studying ancient Greek, and has spent much of her life in Greece, especially Crete. She is a passionate wildlife conservationist and also a musician.

She now lives in London and has published twelve poetry collections, seven non-fiction works and a novel. Click on their covers below, to find out about them.

Ruth is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and Zoological Society of London, and Professor of Poetry at King’s College London where she hosts a popular series of Poetry And events, combining poetry with other areas of life and learning.

In 2020, Ruth published Beethoven Variations – Poems on a Lifeand also We are all from somewhere else, a paperback edition of her migration book The Mara Crossing, updated to 2020 to include the worsening migration crisis everywhere, and the effects on it of the climate crisis.

 In February 2021, Beethoven Variations comes out in America from Knopf.  In July, she will publish her second novel, Daughters of the Labyrinth, set on Crete.


Beethoven Variations, Poems on a Life


‘Poetry, biography, music and memoir collide in this wonderful collection. A deeply personal and lyrical journey through the composer’s life and a tender and evocative portrait of the man and his music – and the profound ways it affects listeners and performers.’ – Tatler, Best Books 2020.

‘What a wonderful and unusual idea, to write a biography of Beethoven, interlaced with fragments of autobiography, in poetry. Ruth Padel writes with true passion; her love for, and understanding of, the man and his music shine through each poem.’ – Steven Isserlis, cellist

‘Generous, painful, tender, gorgeously lyrical. With precision, heart-breaking beauty and lyric insight, Ruth Padel performs a miracle: Beethoven comes alive before us.’ – Poet Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic


An adventure in poetry and biography – a journey into creativity and its power to overcome suffering

Tracking Beethoven’s footsteps, through Germany, Austria and Silesia, Ruth tells his inner story through poems that draw on his diaries, letters and music. She threads her story with fragments of her own music-making, in song and on the viola, Beethoven’s instrument as a child. After the poems, she gives a brief prose biography and list of his major works so you can see where music you love fits into his life.


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