He’s only my favorite composer, but my ARHtistic License search engine is not turning up any articles about him. How is that possible?
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) displayed his gift for music at a young age. His musician father thought Ludwig could be another Mozart, a child prodigy who could earn the family a living. He began teaching his son, but because of his alcoholism, was a rather dysfunctional instructor, often waking the boy out of a sound sleep and demanding that he practice clavier.
Nevertheless, Ludwig did become a sought-after pianist, organist, and violinist. At age 21 he moved from the family home in Bonn, Germany to Vienna, Austria, the cultural center of Europe, to study counterpoint with Josef Haydn. His early works were influenced by the great master.
Beethoven loved nature and began his days with a walk through the countryside. He carried a notebook with him and would jot down the melodies and harmonies that came to him while he walked.
He began to lose his hearing in 1798. By 1818 it had deteriorated to that point that he could only communicate through writing. His conversation notebooks still exist, and they are a treasure trove of information for those who want to know what his daily life was like, as they include discussions about music, business, and personal matters.
His hearing loss made it difficult to perform; yet he was able to continue to compose music, due to his well-developed inner hearing. He famously beat time at the premier of his Ninth Symphony (though the musicians had been instructed to follow a different conductor), and was not aware that the piece was over until someone turned him around and showed him the applauding audience.
Beethoven’s work bridged the Classical and Romantic eras. You could say that he was the last great Classical composer and the one who laid the groundwork for Romanticism. His music changed with the times, and greatly influenced the nineteenth century composers who followed him.
Beethoven wrote 772 pieces, including nine symphonies, eleven concertos, sixteen string quartets, seven piano trios, thirty-two piano sonatas, many pieces for piano and solo instruments, much vocal music, choral music, and chamber music, and one opera (Fidelio). He is considered one of the greatest composers of all time, and one of the most widely performed.
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