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A Beethoven Biography

Updated on January 20, 2012

This Hub takes a look at the life of one of the greatest classical composers: Ludwig van Beethoven. This will be illustrated by a selection of YouTube clips where brilliant artists perform his works. This is the story of a man with an incredible fighting spirit. Let both his example and his music inspire you!


Beethoven and his parents

When Ludwig van Beethoven, who lived from 1770 to 1827, was 16 years old, his mother died. His dad drank to excess and Beethoven had to take care of two brothers who were younger than him. Beethoven had to ask his father's workplace to give him half of his dad's paycheck so his dad would not spend it all on alcohol.


1st Piano Concerto C major

Beethoven's manners

Beethoven was not a very polished young man. When he turned 22, he left his birthplace of Bonn to go to Vienna where he could learn from a master musician, Haydn. Even though he did not possess excellent manners, his talent in virtuoso improvisation on the piano gained him favor with the aristocracy and Archduke Rudolph went so far as to state that Beethoven did not have to abide by the typical court behavior.


Eroica Symphony, 4th movement

First success

In 1795, Beethoven experienced fame and fortune from his first opus, entitled Three Piano Trios. Beethoven was not used to such fame, and he was prone to suicidal thoughts and even thought about committing suicide but decided not to because of his love of music and playing piano. When he started to go deaf shortly following his early success, he started to withdraw from society even more. Even so, he continued to write music, and the pieces that he composed during the next 10 years have long been valued as some of the most inspiring works of art ever created.

When he first wrote the 3rd Symphony Eroica, Beethoven dedicated it to Napoleon, but this honor was later stripped away after Napoleon named himself the emperor. 


Beethoven "Moonlight" Sonata - Valentina Lisitsa

Personal tribulations

Beethoven never married and experienced quite a few relationships that did not work out. These failures most likely caused Beethoven to become even more depressed and led to a time when he did not write a lot of music. In 1812, he did compose a letter directed to his "Immortal Beloved", but no one knows for sure who it was.

Once he emerged from his depression, Beethoven's late period consisted of pieces that were closely linked to his personal tribulations throughout this time in his life. These tribulations included his battle to gain custody of a nephew named Karl after Beethoven's brother passed away without warning. Beethoven's music of this time featured large-scale forms and contrapuntal writing and expressed his feelings of freedom.


Violin Sonata No 10, 2nd movement

Later years

Even though Beethoven was completely deaf in his later years, he was still able to give several performances. During one such performance, he conducted the debut presentation of his Ninth Symphony. He started crying when he saw the audience cheering for him and his performance. On March 26, 1827, during a loud and strong rainstorm, Beethoven passed away. It has been said that even as he died, he was shaking his fists at the heavens.


Your comments

What do Beethoven mean to you? Please stay a moment and share your thoughts on this great personality and his immortal masterworks. What are your favorite works or movements by Beethoven? Do you prefer the symphonies, piano sonatas, string quartets...? Did Beethoven ever write a bad piece of music in your opinion and in that case which one!? Looking forward to hear from our readers!

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    • AllSuretyBonds profile image

      AllSuretyBonds 

      7 years ago

      Beethoven was so talented. I never knew that he was completely deaf when he got older. The story you shared of him being brought to tears after he played and the crowd was cheering gave me chills. How amazing he must have been to be able to play and write songs while his hearing was bad. Great Hub!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Beethoven was genius. The fact that he could compose one of the greatest symphonies of all time while deaf is too remarkable for words. The first piece I ever taught myself to play on the piano was “Fur Elise” because it was so beautiful. I have played ever since. So, in a way, he was my inspiration.

      Thank you for this wonderful hub.

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