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The Life And Times of Ludwig Van Beethoven

Updated on February 6, 2008

Alba The Life And Times of Ludwig Van Beethoven

Today people consider Beethoven as a composer of great music of all kinds yet during his own time people admired him because he was a great pianist. He marveled people particularly for his astonishing power of playing a piece of music on the piano at the same time as he was actually composing it in his head which is known as extemporization. Through the course of time, he has come to be attributed as one of the greatest composers that has walked the earth.

Beethoven was born at Bonn, a town on the River Rhine in Germany which is now the capital of the German Federal Republic. He was baptized on December 17, 1770. His harsh and lazy father was a singer at the Court of the Archbishop - Elector of Cologne.

When Ludwig as a little boy showed signs of inclination to Music, it is said that his faher thought he might get rich quickly by showing off his son as a child prodigy, as the great composer Mozart had been when he was young. According to some traditions, four-year old Ludwig was locked into a room with a harpsichord and violin and told to practice often in tears. At the age of eight he started learning the organ. When he turned eleven years old, he was appointed assistant to Christian Gottlob Neefe, court organist to the elector and Beethoven's first real teacher. In the years that followed Beethoven assumed a post in the court theater. His main duty here is to accompany the orchestra on the harpsichord. Through this job he gained substantial experience in music and was already trying his hand at composing.

One of the most important event in Beethoven's life was his visit to Vienna in 1787. There he met Mozart who heard him play and commented of him: "Pay attention to him, he will make noise in the world someday." This visit to Vienna was cut short by the death of Beethoven's mother. Upon learning the demise of his mother, he at once returned to Bonn.

At the age of eighteen, Beethoven found himself as the breadwinner of the family for his father had by now become an alcoholic. Beethoven was sturdy and rugged in appearance, ill-mannered, hot-tempered and obstinate. By this time Beethoven was now well-accepted and recognized by his people as a gifted musician particularly as a pianist.

During his free time, whenever he was not occupied in the court orchestra or with mentoring, he would go for long walks alone in the country, jotting down tunes that occurred to him in a little notebook, something which he did all his life. Out of those little notes, he would workout the themes for his sonatas and symphonies.

In 1792 Beethoven again left Bonn for Vienna to study composition under the mentoring of the great Joseph Haydn. Beethoven's arrogance made him a stubborn student. Teaching sessions with Haydn ended when the latter went to England in 1794. Beethoven then studied under J.W..Albrechtsberger, a stern teacher who could not comprehend the reason behind his student's rebellious nature.

Eventually Beethoven settled in Vienna , working out his living as a pianist and composer and counting on the benevolence of his friends, Count Waldstein and the Prince and Princess Lichnowsky. Beethoven had become difficult to get along with quarreling about his lodgings with his servants.

By the end of the 1790s Beethoven started to become deaf. By 1801, it had become more serious until in the end he hear nothing at all. It was such a terrible thing to befall a musician. Beethhoven even thought of taking his own life, exposing the idea in his famous document, the Heiligenstadt Testament of 1802. Beethoven withdrew from his friends into a solitary world, a world in which the only essential thing is music. During this state, he wrote some of his most wonderful music - music which he himself never heard of but only audible inside his mind. At the first performance of his ninth Symphony in 1826, he was deaf completely that a friend had to turn him around to see the overwhelming applause to his music. He remained in Vienna until his death on March 26, 1827 at the age of 57.

Beethoven's Music

Prior to the time of Beehoven , the music of great composers such as Hayden and Mozart was well recognized by the people. Their music was full of grace and sophisticated, full of beautiful and pleasant tunes that are perfectly well planned. The music of Beethoven were stronger and more romantic, full of personal feelings. It could express the most unbearable sadness, or joy, or delight, or even laughter as the composer desire. Beethoven's sturdy and stubborn charater comes out in his vigorous music. Beethoven is one composer whose music is suited to be played on the instruments rather than to be sung by a singer. But he had also written choral masses. He wrote the oratorio called "Christ On The Mount Of Olives", a choral fantasia which features a solo part for piano and an opera called "Fidelio." The last monument movement of his ninth Symphony is also choral. His greatest works are his Nine Symphonies and 17 String Quartets. Musicians think of the Nine Symphonies of Beethoven in the same ways as writers think of the plays of Shakespeare. They are among the best masterpieces of any artist.

In addition, Beethoven had written several overtures, five piano concertos and one violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas and a great deal of other music.



By : Rene Alba


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    • profile image

      peter 7 years ago


      I am just a kid and I an already learning a lot of things!


    • profile image

      jj 9 years ago

      you are good at this bio

    • profile image

      tgghfgf 9 years ago


    • Siu-Wai profile image

      Siu-Wai 9 years ago from Boston

      Thanks for a well-written bio. I've played Beethoven's music all my life and it's nice to meet a fellow fan!

    • cristina327 profile image

      Maria Cristina Aquino Santander 10 years ago from Manila

      Thanks Donna for taking time to read my hubs.

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      donna smith 10 years ago


      Your articles are wonderful. I enjoy them all!

      As a Classical pianist, I liked this one very much.

      You are a breath of fresh air.