Mr. Marek, the recording biographer of Puccini, Strauss (1967) among others, has written a long--700 pages--diligent and rather dull biography of Beethoven, however carefully positioning him against the historical and social events of his time and disposing of the apocrypha (the story of the spider, among others). Mr. Marek traces the evolution of the artist from the traditional compositions of his first, less significant period, to the progressively more powerful works of the second and third. Patronised by those in high places, Beethoven earned well in a society which had come to respect the artist. Susceptible to women, he pursued his various associations although the ""uncertainty"" abides and ""We who love Beethoven will never cease being tantalized by the mystery"" of his ""Immortal Beloved,"" although Mr. Marek advances a new possibility. The last years of failing health, total deafness (much exaggerated by others as having occurred earlier), declining finances and the truculent, tyrannical relationship with his nephew are all substantially detailed. The total effect is nonetheless talky, written down and spelled out, often indulging in ""Let us nots"" and ""We may imagines"" and periwigged rhetoric--""How malevolent his fate seems, how senseless, how cruel."" Mr. Marek has accomplished the biography at the expense of the genius.