In a series of powerful strokes, the music of Beethoven's last years redefined his legacy and enlarged the realm of experience accessible to the creative imagination. Maynard Solomon's 'Late Beethoven' investigates the phenomenon of the final phase, focusing especially on the striking metamorphosis in Beethoven's system of beliefs that began early in his fifth decade and eventually amounted to a sweeping realignment of his views of nature, antiquity, divinity, and human purpose. Using the composer's letters, diaries, and conversation books, Solomon traces Beethoven's attraction to a constellation of heterogeneous ideas, drawn from Romanticism, Freemasonry, comparative religion, Eastern initiatory ritual, Mediterranean mythology, aesthetics, and classical and contemporary thought. Through these often arcane sources, Beethoven gained access to a vast reservoir of imagery and ideas with the potential to expand music's expressive and communicative reach. This 'multitude of productive images,' writes Solomon, 'provided kindling for the blaze of his imagination.'