Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven

A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missasolemnis and an opera, Fidelio.

The family environment was not very favorable for him, under the wayward authority of his father, a mediocre yard singer and a notorious alcoholic. Noticing, however, his son’s early musical talent, he tried to transform the small Ludwig into a child prodigy, just like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Beethoven began taking music lessons at the age of 10 years old with organist Christian GottlobNeef. He recognizes the little child’s exceptional musical endowment and with the support of the Archbishop of Bonn, Maximilian Franz, he facilitates young Beethoven a trip to Vienna in 1787. Ludwigtook a few lessons with Mozart, but he returned as soon as possible to Bonn, due to the illness and death of his mother. In the next four years, Ludwig worked with the chapel courtyard and the orchestra theater in Bonn, thus having the opportunity to expand his musical knowledge with works that were in circulation at the time. During this time, he composed a cantata at the death of Emperor Joseph II.

In November 1792, Beethoven leaves for the second time in Vienna, where he became a pupil of Joseph Haydn, and later of Antonio Salieri. In the capital of the Habsburg Empire, Beethoven manages to win the favors of the Viennese aristocratic society through private concerts. With this occasion, he managed to gain fame as a virtuoso pianist and composer. Thanks to these relationships and contacts with publishing houses, which published some of his compositions, Beethoven managed to acquire the independence that Mozart once wanted as well.

In the famous “Heiligenstadt Testament” from 1802, Beethoven addressed to his brother, frightened about the deafness which was more pronounced day after day. However, precisely in these years, Beethoven composed a series of perfect works of the classic style of maturity, such as the three piano sonatas op. 31, Symphony III “Eroica”, then the piano sonata op. 57 “Appassionata”, the concerto for violin and orchestra, as well as Symphony V (“Destiny”) and Symphony VI (“Pastoral”). In these compositions it can be observed the differences between this works and his first works composed in his early years in Vienna.

By 1818, Beethoven became completely deaf, the only way to communicate with interlocutors being the “notebook conversations” in which people were writing instead of speaking. Deafness has not stopped his artistic creation and in 1819, he composed “Diabelli Variations” for the piano, while in 1820 the first version of “MissaSolemnis” was created. Ludwig performed his last piano sonatas and string quartets, and finally, he composed the Symphony No. 9. On 7 May 1824 in Vienna was held the first performance of Symphony No. 9. The success was triumphant, might even say revolutionary.

Increasingly ill, being bedridden since December 1826, Beethoven died on 26 March 1827, following a liver disease. At the funerals fromWähringer cemetery, thousands of inhabitants of Vienna attended, and poet Franz Grillparzer spoked the farewell words. He was later twice exhumed and reburied in the Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) of Vienna.

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