LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
BIRTH: December 16/17, 1770
DEATH: March 26, 1827 (aged 56), Vienna
Ludwig van Beethoven was a composer and Musician who connected the classical and Romantic ages of Western music.
Beethoven was born in Bonn in the Electorate of Cologne, a principality of the Holy Roman Empire. Beethoven was the eldest child of Johann and Maria Magdalena. His father, Johann Beethoven, was a court musician.
He belonged to a musical family. His grand- father was a singer in the choir of the Archbishop Elector of Cologne and later he became the Kapellmeister. It’s believed that his father taught him music by using violent means. Ludwig learned the violin and clavier from his father.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s first recital took place in 1778. He attended the Latin grade school, Tirocinium. He left his education at ten years of age in order to pursue music. He went on to study music under Christian Gottlob Neefe. He used to fill Neefe’s position as a church organist in his absence. At twelve years of age, Beethoven created his first composition, a set of piano variations.
Ludwig Beethoven left for Vienna, Austria in the year 1787. It is assumed that he wanted to make Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart his guide. However, he had to come back to Bonn due to the ailing health of his mother who died the same year.
Beethoven was given the honor of composing a musical memorial for the demise of the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, in 1790. However, he never got to perform. His composition, “Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II” was found a century later. After the demise of his father, Beethoven went back to Vienna. Here, he learned music under the guidance of Joseph Haydn. Beethoven acquired the reputation of a piano virtuoso while in Vienna.
In 1795, Beethoven published his first mature work. It was a series of three piano trios called “Opus 1″. It was dedicated to his patron Prince Lichnowsky. He completed his work “Op 18” containing his first six quartets in 1800. Beethoven’s ballet ‘The Creatures of Prometheus’ was first performed in 1801. It gained immense popularity. This ballet was performed twenty- seven times at the Imperial Court Theatre.
In 1801, at the age of 30, Beethoven addressed a letter to a friend, Franz Wegeler, expressing that “For the last three years my hearing has grown steadily weaker”. He further described his feelings towards his deafness, “I must confess that I lead a miserable life. For almost two years I have ceased to attend any social functions, just because I find it impossible to say to people: I am deaf. If I had any other profession, I might be able to cope with my infirmity; but in my profession it is a terrible handicap”. The exact reason for his deafness is still unknown. His housekeepers have revealed of his trauma and the way he used to sit at the piano trying to feel the vibrations of the notes. He was advised by his doctor to live
in Heiligenstadt, a small town outside Vienna, He wrote his famous Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter to his brothers in 1802.
Even with his increasing deafness, Beethoven continued to compose at an alarming rate. The years from 1803 to 1812 are considered to be his “heroic” period. During this time, he produced seven piano sonatas, six symphonies, six string sonatas, five string quartets, four solo concerti, five sets of piano variations, four overtures, four trios, two sextets and seventy-two songs. He also composed an opera, ‘Fidelio? It is his only opera composition.
In May 1799, Beethoven taught music to the daughters of the Hungarian Count Antal Brunszvik. He was supposedly attracted to the younger daughter, Josephine. However, they did not get married, instead Josephine later married Count Josef Deym. When Deym died in 1804, Beethoven and Josephine’s relationship was supposedly intensified. It is suggested that she might be Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved”. On the 6-7 July in 1812, Beethoven addressed two love letters to confess his feelings to his
“Immortal Beloved”. But they were never sent. Till date, Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved” remains a
Ludwig van Beethoven died on March 26, 1827 at the age of fifty-six. The exact reason for his death is still unknown.