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  1. Ludwig van Beethoven (baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German music composer and pianist. Beethoven is one of the most revered figures in the history of Western music; his works rank among the most performed of the classical music repertoire and span the transition from the Classical period to the Romantic era in classical music.

    • Overview
    • The early years

    Beethoven is widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived, in no small part because of his ability—unlike any before him—to translate feeling into music. His most famous compositions included Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 (1808), Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op 92 (1813), and Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 (1824).

    Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

    Listen to an excerpt from Symphony No. 5 in C Minor.

    Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

    Listen to an excerpt from Symphony No. 7 in A Major.

    How did Ludwig van Beethoven get his start in music?

    Beethoven was the eldest surviving child of Johann and Maria Magdalena van Beethoven. The family was Flemish in origin and can be traced back to Malines. It was Beethoven’s grandfather who had first settled in Bonn when he became a singer in the choir of the archbishop-elector of Cologne; he eventually rose to become Kappellmeister. His son Johann was also a singer in the electoral choir; thus, like most 18th-century musicians, Beethoven was born into the profession. Though at first quite prosperous, the Beethoven family became steadily poorer with the death of his grandfather in 1773 and the decline of his father into alcoholism. By age 11 Beethoven had to leave school; at 18 he was the breadwinner of the family.

    Having observed in his eldest son the signs of a talent for the piano, Johann tried to make Ludwig a child prodigy like Mozart but did not succeed. It was not until his adolescence that Beethoven began to attract mild attention.

    Britannica Quiz

    Music Quiz

    When in 1780 Joseph II became sole ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, he appointed his brother Maximilian Francis as adjutant and successor-designate to the archbishop-elector of Cologne. Under Maximilian’s rule, Bonn was transformed from a minor provincial town into a thriving and cultured capital city. A liberal Roman Catholic, he endowed Bonn with a university, limited the power of his own clergy, and opened the city to the full tide of the German literary renaissance associated with Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, and the young Goethe and Schiller. A sign of the times was the nomination as court organist of Christian Gottlob Neefe, a Protestant from Saxony, who became Beethoven’s teacher. Although somewhat limited as a musician, Neefe was nonetheless a man of high ideals and wide culture, a man of letters as well as a composer of songs and light theatrical pieces; and it was to be through Neefe that Beethoven in 1783 would have his first extant composition (Nine Variations on a March by Dressler) published at Mannheim. By June 1782 Beethoven had become Neefe’s assistant as court organist.

    In 1783 he was also appointed continuo player to the Bonn opera. By 1787 he had made such progress that Maximilian Francis, archbishop-elector since 1784, was persuaded to send him to Vienna to study with Mozart. The visit was cut short when, after a short time, Beethoven received the news of his mother’s death. According to tradition, Mozart was highly impressed with Beethoven’s powers of improvisation and told some friends that “this young man will make a great name for himself in the world”; no reliable account of Beethoven’s first trip to Vienna survives, however.

  2. Apr 3, 2014 · Learn about the life and music of Beethoven, one of the greatest composers of all time. Discover how he overcame his childhood abuse, deafness and personal struggles to create masterpieces of the Classical and Romantic eras.

    • John Suchet
    • Archduke Trio. This was the last piece Beethoven performed in public, due to the worsening of his deafness. Dedicated to his greatest patron, the trio has a joyous first movement, but the slow movement is one of his loveliest.
    • Waldstein Piano Sonata. The Waldstein Piano Sonata was dedicated to Beethoven’s patron in Bonn, back in his teenage years. Once again there’s a joyous first movement, with rapidly repeated chords at the opening – a challenge for the pianist.
    • Triple Concerto. This is my candidate for one of the two most unjustly neglected compositions by Beethoven. He wrote it for friends, so the piano part – to be played by Archduke Rudolf – is not complex.
    • Choral Fantasia. Like the Triple Concerto – unjustly neglected. It begins with solo piano, then orchestra comes in, then chorus and soloists. At the first performance, Beethoven was improvising, and the piece went off the rails.
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer and pianist, who is arguably the defining figure in the history of Western classical music.

  4. Ludwig van Beethoven, (baptized Dec. 17, 1770, Bonn, archbishopric of Cologne—died March 26, 1827, Vienna, Austria), German composer. Born to a musical family, he was a precociously gifted pianist and violist.

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