There is no name that resonates closer to classical music more than the name of the eloquent German xomposer, Ludwig Van Beethoven. Many authorities on music would go as far as naming Beethoven as the most influential composer of all time. A central figure in the development of the Romantic Era, Beethoven was largely known for his symphonies and piano sonatas.
Ludwig Van Beethoven was born to Johann Beethoven in Bonn, Germany, in the year 1770. His exact date of birth remains unclear, however, church records indicate that he was baptized on December 17, 1770. Ludwig was one of Johann’s three children to survive infancy out of the seven that he fathered. Beethoven’s father Johann used to give music lessons as a side job; thus Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father, who taught him the basics on the piano. Beethoven also learnt from some family friends, including Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer. He also took lessons from his local church organist, Gilles van den Eeden. Beethoven soon matured as a child prodigy, he gave his first public performance at the age of seven (his father had posters printed that he was six at the time to help with the publicity). Soon, Beethoven starting taking lessons in composition with Christian Gottlob Neefe, who also helped Beethoven write his first ever composition, “WoO 63”. Beethoven then worked as an assistant organist with Neefe, and he composed three piano sonatas titled “Kurfurst”.
Between 1787 and 1792 Beethoven was directly taking care of his two younger brothers as his mother passed away and his father delved into alcoholism. During this time, he played the violin at several orchestras. Beethoven then studied under the highly famous composer, Joseph Haydn, under whom he polished his counterpoint skills. During these times, Beethoven was receiving stipends from Viennese Royalty, who were carefully observing his maturity. Beethoven then gave his first public performance in Vienna in 1795, by then; he had started garnering popularity as a new piano virtuoso.
However, around 1796, Beethoven started to lose his hearing due to tinnitus. His difficulty in hearing certain sounds, coupled with chronic abdominal pain, made for a very difficult personal life. Beethoven also had a difficult romantic life, which was hampered by severe class differences.
Beethoven’s music is generally divided into three separate periods, the early period, the middle period, and the late period. It was often said that the early period, which was generally accepted to have ended somewhere around 1802, was highly influenced by the music of Wolfgang Mozart. Critics often cite the regular change in key from his first two symphonies and the dynamic final movements from his string quartets (Opus 18) as evidence to their claim. Beethoven also composed his highly famous “Pathetique” sonata during this period. The middle period is accepted to be somewhere around 1803-1814, during which Beethoven composed his only opera (Fidelio), six symphonies, three piano concertos, five string quartets, and several piano sonatas, including the highly famous “Moonlight” sonata. Other honorable mentions from this period include the Waldstein and Appassionata sonatas, and the Kreutzer violin sonata. The late period is accepted to be from 1814 up to his death. During this time, Beethoven composed his Ninth Symphony, which many consider to be the greatest piece of music ever written. Beethoven also composed the Missa Solemnis along with five string quartets and five piano sonatas during this time.
Ludwig van Beethoven died on March 26, 1827. Today, he is remembered as one of the most instrumental figures in classical music.