Many things influenced Ludwig van Beethoven’s career as a musician. Some were good, such as meeting Mozart and Haydn. Others, such as his deafness, were not so good.
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Early life and family
Beethoven was born of this marriage in Bonn. He was the eldest surviving child; two younger brothers died in infancy. Maria Magdalena gave birth to seven children, but only two survived childhood: Alois (1787–1848) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827).
First musical experiences
Beethoven’s grandfather-and godfather- Kapellmeister Ludwig van Beethoven, was Bonn’s most prosperous and eminent musician. Beethoven’s grandfather taught him daily, instilling in the young Ludwig a love for music. Unfortunately, after the death of Beethoven’s mother in 1787, his father’s alcoholism led to the young boy being badly beaten and locked in a cellar overnight to force him to practice music. This had a profound effect on both Beethoven and his music.
Beethoven’s first compositions were written when he was 11 years old. At the time, he was attending the newly founded Bonn University to study music with Christian Gottlob Neefe, the newly appointed Court Organist. These early pieces consist mainly of minuets and other dance-styles. Although they show a certain degree of skill and promise, they are clearly imitative of contemporary composers such as Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Christian Bach.
The “Bonn period”
The period from 1792 to 1794 is known as the “Bonn period,” during which Beethoven composed two piano sonatas, two violin sonatas, and a set of six string quartets. These early works show the influence of Haydn and Mozart, both of whom Beethoven had studied with in Vienna. However, Beethoven was already beginning to develop his own unique style during this period.
It is no secret that Beethoven’s music was greatly influenced by the city in which he lived – Vienna. The capital of Austria was a hub of activity during the 18th and 19th centuries, with a vibrant culture and many famous musicians. Beethoven himself was born in Vienna in 1770, and spent most of his life there.
Some of Beethoven’s most famous works were composed during his time in Vienna, including his symphonies, piano concertos, and opera. It is clear that the city had a great impact on his career as a composer.
There are several specific events in Beethoven’s life that occurred in Vienna which had a profound effect on his music. One of these was his relationship with the Viennese opera singer, Giacomo Casanova. Beethoven was captivated by Casanova’s voice, and this led him to compose several pieces of music specifically for her to sing.
Another significant event was Beethoven’s meeting with Mozart in 1787. This was a formative experience for the young composer, and he would go on to be greatly influenced by Mozart’s work.
Finally, one cannot discuss Beethoven’s time in Vienna without mentioning his struggle with deafness. This began to affect him around 1796, and it caused great hardship for him both professionally and personally. In spite of this, Beethoven continued to compose some of his most famous works during this period, including his Ninth Symphony.
All of these events – both positive and negative – had a profound impact on Beethoven’s career as a composer. It is clear that Vienna played a significant role in shaping his musical style and output.
The “Heroic” years
Between 1800 and 1802 Beethoven composed some of his most important works, piano sonatas Opp. 101, 106 and 109, the ‘Pathétique’ Sonata, Bagatelles Op. 33, and the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata. The latter two works were published in 1801 with a dedication to his patron Prince Lichnowsky. Opus 101 was commissioned by Prince Lobkowitz and dedicated to him; it was completed in March 1802 and published later that year. The last of the three piano sonatas, Opus 106, is considered Beethoven’s greatest piano sonata, as well as one of the greatest works for piano ever written; it was also the longest piano sonata until Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B minor (1926).
The “late” period
In the last twelve years of his life (1815-27), Beethoven produced some of his greatest works, despite rapidly worsening deafness. This late period includes the composition of his last five string quartets, the Missa Solemnis, and the Ninth Symphony. Many scholars have noted that Beethoven’s profound deafness deepened his meditation on human mortality and on the universe’s grandeur and infinity, human inadequacy in the face of it, and man’s entire place in time and space. These are all typical “late period” concerns.
Ludwig van Beethoven is a celebrated composer who left a profound mark on music history. While his genius is undeniable, it’s worth exploring the major events in Beethoven’s life that may have influenced his career.
Beethoven was born in 1770 in the city of Bonn, Germany. His father, Johann van Beethoven, was a renowned singer and had high hopes that his son would follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately, Johann’s teaching methods were harsh and abusive, which led to Ludwig having a difficult relationship with his father. In spite of this, Ludwig showed great promise as a musician at a young age and he went on to study under some of the most famous composers of his time, including Joseph Haydn.
One of the most important events in Beethoven’s life occurred in 1787 when he discovered that he was going deaf. This news came as a huge blow to the young composer but he was determined not to let it stop him from making music. He continued to write and compose despite his deafness, and went on to create some of his most famous works during this time period.
Beethoven eventually settled in Vienna, where he spent the majority of his adult life. It was here that he composed many of his most well-known pieces, including Symphony No. 9 “Choral” and Moonlight Sonata.
Beethoven died in 1827 at the age of 56, but his legacy continues on to this day. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time, and his music has inspired generations of musicians since his death.
Beethoven and his music in popular culture
Beethoven’s name and music have been used in many popular culture references. Films, television shows, ballets, and works of fiction have all included uses of his music, which often reflect the breadth of his popular appeal.
Some of these later pieces are now among Beethoven’s most famous, such as “Für Elise”, the Moonlight Sonata, and the 9th Symphony (whose finale includes setting to music Schiller’s “Ode to Joy”). Most of Beethoven’s works were not published until after his death, when they began to achieve wider notice. However, he did gain some recognition during his lifetime.
Quotes about Beethoven
“There are two Beethovens: the man who was born in 1770 in the city of Bonn and died in Vienna in 1827, and the immortal musician to whom the world owes some of its noblest music.”
“Of all my pupils, he alone stands wholly out from personal influence. My instruction was confined to occasional advice and now and then a hint as to treatment of details. Hummel gave him lessons in composition for a short time; but he received no systematic musical education. His genius developed itself spontaneously; study really hindered, not furthered it.”
“Beethoven will soon make an end of me; but what care I when I hear such playing! Never have I heard the like.”
-Giuliani after hearing Beethoven play one of his works
“There is something more important than victory, and that is doing one’s best.”