Beethoven Biography


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Beethoven Biography

  1. 1. Ludwig Van Beethoven Biography & Music Fantasy for Piano Chorus & Orchestra in C minor Opus 80
  2. 2. Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)German composer, pianist and conductor. He is one of the most important figures inall of classical music. His gigantic influence made an impression on nearly everycomposer who came after him. He is considered the best of all-time composers.The influence of Beethoven can be traced through art, literature and music. Hisimage as a composer and Romantic figure has been immortalized through the worksof later composers as well as artists. Sculptures, paintings, poems, and fictionalnovels have been created through the inspiration of Beethoven.Beethovens stylistic innovations encompass two achievements. First, he brought theclassical form to its highest expressive level, expanding in formal, structural andharmonic terms the musical idiom developed by predecessors such as Mozart andHaydn.Additionally, he proved immensely influential over the musical language and thinkingof the Romantic era, he was a source of direct inspiration for the music ofSchumann, Liszt, Brahms, Chopin, and Schubert.
  3. 3. He also continued the trend, towards larger orchestras and moved the center of thesound downwards in the orchestra, to the violas and the lower register of the violinsand cello. He took choral music in symphonies to its highest level.He expressed his creativity in several musical genres and although his symphonieswere the works that gave him international popularity, his piano and chamber musichad also a profound impact in the development of later classical works.Beethoven published during his life a total of 138 works, including: 9 symphonies,35 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, 7 trios, 10 sonatas for violin y piano, 5 concertsfor piano & orchestra, one concert for violin & orchestra, one opera (Fidelio) and morethan 100 songs and lieder.These works have been classified by “Opus” number.After his death, 205 unpublished works were found, and they were assigned with anew numbering system “WoO” (works without Opus number). One of the most famousis the Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor “For Elise” (WoO 59).
  4. 4. Beethoven’s career as a composer is generally divided into three periods of gradualprogress.The first period extends to the year 1800. at the beginning we see Beethoven underthe influence of his great predecessors, Haydn and Mozart, but progressing in rapidstrides towards independence of thought and artistic power. Examples of this periodare the Pathétique Sonata and the First Symphony, Op. 21The second period, from 1800-1814, marks the climax of formal perfection. The worksof this time show the highest efforts of which music as an independent art is capable.Examples of this period are his opera, Fidelio, the overture Egmont; the Concert forViolin, Op. 61 and the Symphonies 2 to 8, amongst which those called the “Pastoral”and the “Eroica” , deserve special mention.The third period may be described as that of poetic music, a distinct poetic ideabecame the moving principle before which the forms of absolute music have to yield.Beethoven has, by the works belonging to this class, ushered in a new phase ofmusic, as will be later demonstrated in the history of classical music.The best examples of this period are the Missa Solemnis and the unequalled master-piece of symphonic art: The Ninth or Choral Symphony. Piano Sonata in D minor - The Tempest Opus 31 No.2
  5. 5. List of most famous Beethoven worksOpus SubOpus Name Dates Dedicated to Notes 13 Piano Sonata 8, in C minor: "Pathetique" 1797 - 1798 Prince Karl Lichnowsky Sonata 5 for Piano & Violin 24 1800 - 1801 Count Moritz von Fries in F major: “Spring” Piano Sonata 14 in C-sharp minor Countess Giulietta The name was given by 27 2 1800 - 1801 “Moonlight” Guicciardi Ludwig Rellstab 28 Piano Sonata 15 in D Major: "Pastoral" 1801 Joseph Sonnenfels Piano Sonata 17 in D minor 31 2 1802 “The Tempest” Prince Ferdinand Initially was dedicated to 55 Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major "Eroica" 1803 Lobkowitz Napoleon Bonaparte. Piano Sonata 23 in F minor: Count Franz Anatol 57 1804 - 1805 "Appassionata" Brunsvik Concert for Violin & Orchestra 61 1806 Stephan von Breuning in D Major: 62 Overture: "Coriolan" 1807 Heinrich Collin Text of H. J. Collin Prince Lobkowitz & 67 Symphony No. 5 in C minor 1803 - 1808 Count Rasumovsky
  6. 6. Opus Name Dates Dedicated to Notes Prince Lobkowitz & 68 Simphony No. 6 in F major: "Pastoral" 1807 - 1808 Count Rasumovsky "Fidelio", Opera in 2 Acts, Libretto: Joseph Sonnleithner 72 1814 Includes its famous overture & Georg Friedrich Treitschke Concert No. 5 for Piano & Orchestra Archduke Rudolph 73 1808 - 1809 in E-flat Major: “The Emperor" of Austria Fantasy for Piano, Chorus & Orchestra King of Bavaria 80 1808 - 1809 Text: Christoph Kuffner in C minor (Choral Fantasy) Maximilian Joseph Incidental music for 84 Overture in F minor: "Egmont 1809 - 1810 Goethe’s tragedy One of the most difficult to Piano Sonata 29 in B-flat major: Archduke Rudolph106 1816 - 1818 execute sonatas, according to "Hammerklavier-Sonata" of Austria Beethoven own words Incidental music for the play By playwright113 1811 “The Ruins of Athens” August von Kotzebue Words based on King of Prussia125 Symphony No. 9 in D minor: "Choral" 1817 - 1824 ‘‘Ode to joy“ Friedrich Wilhelm III of Friedrich Schiller Belongs to his WoO 59 Bagatelle in A minor “For Elise” posthumous works
  7. 7. Contemporary Composers of BeethovenFranz Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)Antonio Salieri (1750 - 1825)Muzio Clementi (1752 - 1832)Giovanni Battista Viotti (1755 - 1824)Christian Kalkbrenner (1755 - 1806)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)Luigi Cherubini (1760 - 1842)Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)François Adrien Boïeldieu (1775 - 1834)Daniel Auber (1782 - 1871)Nicoló Paganini (1782 - 1840)Carl Maria von Weber (1786 - 1826)Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791 - 1864)Ferdinand Hérold (1791 - 1833)Gioacchino Rossini (1792 - 1868)Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828) Violin Concert in D major - Mov.3 Opus 61
  8. 8. BiographyThe Beethoven biography starts with his baptism. He was baptized on December17th 1770 at Bonn. His family originated from Brabant, in Belgium.His father was a musician at the court of Bonn. His mother was always describedas a gentle, retiring woman, with a warm heart. Beethoven referred to her as his“best friend.” The Beethoven family consisted of seven children, but only the threeboys survived, of whom Ludwig was the eldest.At an early age, Beethoven, took an interest in music and his father taught him dayand night, on returning to the house from music practice or the tavern. Without adoubt, the child was gifted and his father Johann, envisaged creating a new Mozart,a child prodigy.At the age of 7, Ludwig Van Beethoven gave his first public performance, atCologne, on March 26, 1778.Soon Ludwig learned music, notably the organ and composition by renownedmusicians, such as Gottlob Neefe. Neefe recognized how extraordinarily talentedBeethoven was and not only did Neefe teach him music, but he made the works ofphilosophers, ancient and modern, known to Beethoven as well.
  9. 9. In 1782, before the age of 12, Beethoven published his first work: Nine Variations inC minor, for piano on a march by Earnst Christoph Dressler (WoO 63).The following year, in 1783, Neefe wrote in the Magazine of Music, about his student.“If he continues like this, he will be, without a doubt, the new Mozart.”In June 1784, on Neefe’s recommendations, Ludwig Van Beethoven, was appointedorganist of the court of Maximillian Franz, Elector of Cologne. He was 14 years-old.This post enabled him to frequent new circles, other than those of his father andfriends of his family. Here he met people who were to remain friends for the rest ofhis life: The Ries family and the Von Breuning family, and the charming Eleonore,Karl Amenda, the violinist, Franz Gerhard Wegeler, a doctor, and a dear friend whoalso went to Vienna.At home, little by little, Ludwig replaced his father. First of all financially, becauseJohann, was less and less capable of keeping up his role at the court. The youngBeethoven felt responsible for his two younger brothers, an idea he kept for the restof his life, sometimes to the extent of being excessive. ‘‘For Elise“ - Bagatelle in A minor WoO 59
  10. 10. Ludwig van Beethoven Musical EducationPrince Maximillian Franz was also aware of Beethoven music, and so he sent himto Vienna, in 1787, to meet Mozart and advance further on his musical education.The city of Vienna was, after all, capital of the culture and music of Europe.However, the plan had to change, a letter called Beethoven back to Bonn, hismother was dying. The only person in his family with whom he had developed astrong and loving relationship with, passed away on July 17, 1787.Five years later, in 1792, Ludwig Van Beethoven went back to Vienna, benefitingfrom another grant, for two years, by the Prince Elector, again to pursue hismusical education. He never went back to the town of his birth. His friendWaldstein, wrote to him, “you will receive Mozart’s spirit from Haydn’s hands”.At Vienna, the young musician took lessons with Haydn, then withAlbrechtsberger and Salieri. He captured the attention of, and astonished Viennawith his virtuosity and his improvisations on piano.
  11. 11. Beethoven’s TeachersFranz Ries (1755-1846)Ries was the young Beethovens music violin teacher at Bonn, and one of those whorecognized his musical talent early, and did all he could to foster it. Franz Ries wasthe leader of the Electors orchestra.A kindly, caring man, he was particularly solicitous of Ludwigs welfare after Ludwigsmother died in 1787, almost certainly supporting him financially.In 1789, Ries helped Ludwig draft the letter to the Elector which resulted in Johannvan Beethovens retirement as court singer and half his pension being paid toLudwig. His son, Ferdinand (1784-1838) was a student of Beethoven at Vienna.Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748-1798)This composer was one of Beethovens first teachers, notably of the organ and ofcomposition. Neefe arrived at Bonn in 1779 and in 1783, he wrote of Beethoven inthe "Magazine of music", "If he continues like this he will, without doubt, become thenext Mozart". Beethoven always recognized how much he owed to Neefe. Concert No.5 for Piano & Orchestra – “Emperor” Opus 73
  12. 12. Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)Famous composer who taught Beethoven from 1792 to 1794, when Haydn had toreturn to London. Haydn taught Beethoven counterpoint, amongst other things.The relationship between the two men was variable, but Beethoven remained verygrateful to Haydn.Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736-1809)Beethovens music teacher for about a year and a half in 1794 and 1795.Albrechtsberger was renowned for his mastery of counterpoint. He followed on fromHaydn, even Beethoven was taking lessons from the two masters at the same time.Antonio Salieri (1750-1825)Beethoven studied with Salieri from 1800 to 1802. Salieri taught him singing,essentially for the opera. There was little contact between the two composersafterwards.
  13. 13. Beethoven in ViennaIn 1794, Beethoven composed Opus 1, the Trios for Piano. The following year, hemade his first public performance at Vienna (an “Academy”) whereby each musicianwas to play his own work. Then followed a tour; Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, andBerlin, before leaving for a concert in Budapest.Beethoven made numerous acquaintances at Vienna. Everybody in the musical andaristocratic world admired the young composer. These music-lovers wereBeethoven’s greatest supporters.In 1800, Beethoven organized a new concert at Vienna including, notably, thepresentation of his first symphony. Although today we find this work classical, andclose to the works of Mozart and Haydn, at the time certain listeners found thesymphony strange, overly extravagant, and even risky. The genius of Beethoven,who was still a young, new composer, was already pushing the establishedboundaries of music.In 1801, Beethoven confessed to his friends at Bonn his worry of becoming deaf.At Heiligenstadt, in 1802, he wrote a famous text which expressed his disgust at theunfairness of life, that he, a musician, could become deaf was something he did notwant to live through. Symphony No.5 in C minor Mov.1 Opus 67
  14. 14. But, music made him carry on and he wrote that he knew that he still had many othermusical domains to explore, to discover, and to pass on to the world.Beethoven, knowing that his handicap was getting worse and worse. He threw himselfinto his greatest compositions; Sonatas for Piano, notably The Storm, Opus 31, thesecond and the third symphonies, The Eroica and of course many more.Beethoven wrote his third symphony in honor of a great man, Bonaparte. He wasseen as the liberator of the people, opening, from the French Revolution, a door tohope. When the First Consul declared himself Emperor, Beethoven became enragedand took out Bonaparte’s name from the score. On April 7th, 1805, the Eroicasymphony was played for the first time.Meanwhile, Beethoven had finally finished his opera, Leonore, the only opera he everwrote. He wrote and re-wrote four different overtures. The name of the operatherefore, changed to Fidelio, against the wishes of the composer.November 20th 1805 was the date of the opening performance before a thin audienceof French offices. This was because Napoleon, head of the army, had capturedVienna for the first time. This happened again in 1809.
  15. 15. In the years that followed, the creative activity of the composer became intense.He composed many symphonies, and also the Coriolan Overture, and the famousLetter for Elise.He taught music to many young students, but also to some important personalitieslike the Archbishop, Rudolph, brother of the emperor, who also became his student,his friend, and eventually one of his benefactors.In 1809, Beethoven wanted to leave Vienna, at the invitation of Jerome Bonaparte.His long-standing friend, the Countess Anna Marie Erdody, kept him at Vienna withthe help of his wealthiest admires: the Archbishop Rudolph, the Prince Lobkowitz,and the Prince Kinsky. These men gave Beethoven and annual grant of 4,000 florins,allowing him to live without financial constraint. The only condition was thatBeethoven was not to leave Vienna. Beethoven accepted.This grant made him the first independent composer. Before this, contract musiciansand composers alike, had became servants in the houses of wealthy aristocraticfamilies.In 1812, Beethoven went for hydrotherapy at Teplitz, where he wrote his ardent letterto “The Immortal Beloved.” This letter which was found in a secret draw with theHeiligenstadt Testament, has not stopped the theories and suppositions ofresearchers and biographers ever since Symphony No.7 in A major Mov.2 Opus 92
  16. 16. Numerous women amongst his students and friends have been, in turn, proposed asthe recipient of this letter. Unless a new document is discovered, it is very likely thatthe truth about this mysterious woman will remain a secret.At the end of July 1812, Beethoven met Goethe, under the organization of BettinaBrentano. These two great men admired each other, but didn’t understand each other. Beethoven admired Goethe; he put to music several of his poems. He alwaysregretted not having been better understood by Goethe.Then one of his benefactors, the Prince Lobkowitz, fell into financial difficulty, and thePrince Kinski, died from falling off his horse. Kinski’s descendant decided to put anend to the financial obligations towards Beethoven. Here started one of thecomposer’s many attempts to save his financial independence.The Czech, Johann Nepomuk Maelzel, took up contact with Beethoven. Inventor ofgenius, and probable inventor of the metronome, Maelzel had already met Beethovenand had created various devices to help Beethoven with his hearing: acoustic cornets,a listening system linking up to the piano, etc.In 1813, Beethoven composed “The Victory of Wellington,” a work written for amechanical instrument made by Maelzel, the “pan harmonicon”.
  17. 17. It was above all the metronome, which helped evolve music and Beethoven, who hadtaken interest straight way, noted scrupulously the markings on his scores, so thathis music could be played how he wished.Beethoven conducted the first public performance of his 7th and 8th Symphonies in1814. This was also the time of the re-writing of Leonore as Fidelio, Beethoven’s onlyopera. This work eventually became successful before the public.Then the Congress of Vienna met, which brought together all the heads of state, todecide the future of Europe after Napoleon. This was one of Beethoven’s moments ofglory. He was invited to play many times, bringing him recognition and admiration ofwhich he could be truly proud.On November 15th 1815, Kaspar Karl, Beethoven’s brother, died. He left behind hiswife, whom the composer referred to as “The queen of the night” due to her badreputation, as well as a son, Karl, who was 9.Here Beethoven’s life was to change dramatically. His brother had written that hewished Karl’s guardianship to be exercised by both his wife and his brother, Ludwig. Symphony No.9 in D minor Mov.4 Opus 125
  18. 18. Beethoven took this role very seriously, but the 45 year-old celibate, who could nolonger hear, found it difficult to live with and understand a child and then a youngman. This cohabitation was the cause of a new trial against the mother of the child,a generation conflict and numerous troubles.In 1816, Carl Czerny, future teacher of Franz Liszt, became Karl’s music teacher,but didn’t find the talent in the boy who Beethoven hoped him to possess.At this time he ended his cycle of lieder “To the distant loved one”, and drafted thefirst theme for his ninth symphony.Two years later, the Archduke Rudolph became Cardinal and Beethoven begancomposing his mass in D. It was never ready for the intonation, but the work wasrich beyond compare.The ninth symphony was practically finished in 1823, the same year as the MissaSolemnis. Liszt, who was 11 years old, met Beethoven who came to his concerto onApril 13th. He congratulated the young virtuoso heartily who, years later, transcribedthe entirety of Beethoven’s symphonies for piano.
  19. 19. May 7th 1824 was the date of the first playing of the ninth symphony and despite themusical difficulties, and problems in the sung parts, it was a success. Unfortunately itwas not financially rewardingThen began the period of the last quartets of Beethoven music, which are stilldifficult, even for today’s audience, who knows how to interpret his other works. Hestarted to compose his tenth symphony.His Final YearIn 1826, Beethoven caught cold coming back from his brother’s house. The illnesscomplicated other health problems from which Beethoven had suffered all his life. Hepassed away encircled by his closest friends on March 26, 1827. He was buried atthe Wahring cemetery, now Schubert Park.The funeral rites took place at the church of the Holy Trinity. It is estimated thatbetween 10,000 and 30,000 people attended. Franz Schubert, timid and a hugeadmirer of Beethoven, without ever having become close to him, was one of thecoffin bearers, along with other musicians. Schubert died the next year and wasburied next to Beethoven.
  20. 20. Beethoven’s Funeral – Painting by Franz StoberBeethoven’s Piano Beethoven’s Tomb at Bonn Museum in Viena
  21. 21. E N DReference: AVM 27.05.2012