This research looks at the work of Ludwig van Beethoven, who was thought to be one of the most influential musicians of all time. This research outlines primary sources including the composers background, his upbringing, music background, a complete list of his compositions, background on the historic time periods of the composer’s life, and circumstances for which he lived. This focus undermines his role as a dominant force as one of the most influential composers of the nineteenth Century. The development of Beethoven is organized into two periods in history: The Classical and Romantic periods. There were several significant things Beethoven did during his career that greatly impacted the music of today!
Ludwig van Beethoven was born on December 16, 1770, in the town of Bonn, Germany. (Charlton 151). Beethoven was born into a family of musicians. His grandfather and father were both professional singers. His father spent days and nights developing Beethoven into the gifted artist he hoped to be. He envisioned shaping his son into a child prodigy like Mozart. Beethoven had two particular composers that influenced him considerably and admired their work. Those eminent composers were most commonly known as Mozart and Haydn. His childhood was harsh without a mother and having to deal with an alcoholic father. At a young age, Beethoven learned how to play piano and violin. Beethoven was a salient icon between the Classical and Romantic eras in art music and remains to be one of the most inspiring and influential composers in history. It is said that Ludwig Van Beethoven wasn’t known to have a very active love life. However, he did happen to fall in love with a woman named Julie Guicciardi who he dedicated his Sonata no. 14. composition for.
At the age of 12, Beethoven was playing for the chapel his father worked at. He was a quick learner and very talented. The young musical mastermind attended a primary school named Tirocinium. By the age of 10, Beethoven withdrew from school to study music full time. Beethoven had several music teachers throughout his childhood. One of the teachers that brought him his success was Christian Gottlob Neefe. He was the first teacher that taught Beethoven about the composition of music. Neefe helped Beethoven learn the guidelines of composition and assisted in mastering the techniques of a professional keyboard player. Later on, Beethoven’s music caught the ear of another famous composer named Franz Joseph Haydn. Haydn was so impressed by Beethoven’s work that he invited him to Vienna, Austria to further his study. In Vienna, he committed himself to a musical study with the most distinguished musicians of the age. In the book it states, “Beethoven did not play in public until 1795, when he performed one of his early piano concertos.” (p. 151). This was just the beginning of his miraculous career.
Beethoven suffered from many obstacles throughout his life. He became deaf during his first few years of his career. The book states that, “He became aware that he was growing deaf. He became deeply depressed when he realized that his career as a performer would end.” (p.151). Although he suffered from deafness, he triumphed and didn’t let anything stop him from composing the greatest compositions, of some say to be, of all time. Some of his compositions include: Symphony no.5 in C Minor, first movement, Piano Sonata 15 (Pastoral) movement one, Piano Sonata 8 (Pathetique) movement two, Choral Symphony (Ninth), Op. 125, and then there’s my personal favorite, Für Elise. He wrote this piece completely deaf in 1810. The interesting thing about this piece is that it wasn’t actually published until after Beethoven’s death in 1827. Beethoven was a very effective composer. He produced many symphonies, piano and violin sonatas, an opera, concertos, and several overtures. Altogether he wrote nine symphonies, 32 piano sonatas, one opera, and five piano concertos. His one and only opera is called Fidelio. It is based on what Beethoven considered to be “the perfect wife”. Over the next 10 years, Beethoven completely submerged himself in his compositions.
Beethoven’s compositions were different than those of Mozart or Hayden. Beethoven was laborious towards his work, always leaving behind drafts that provided an insight into his creative methods. “Unlike Mozart, Beethoven retained his popularity with both the general public and the aristocracy of Vienna. Unlike Haydn, he never had to endure the rigors of the eighteenth-century system of musical patronage.” (p.151). He changed the musical world forever. Before Beethoven, composers primarily wrote music for the church. Beethoven wanted to be discrete and different. His confidence in his work was the only great truth in his life and he held on to it with such persistence because it’s what kept him alive. “Such experiences almost made me despair, and I was on the point of putting an end to my life.” (p.151). Towards the start of the nineteenth century, Beethoven had already changed the course of musical history. “He had lengthened the development section of movements in sonata form and added further development in his codas. He added more instruments to the orchestra, giving it a more intense and dramatic sound.” (p.152).
Ludwig van Beethoven was an inspiration to many. His music was revolutionary for his time. He created new styles of music along with breaking forms and introducing the world to the Romantic era. He was the first musician to support himself entirely upon his music composition. At the time, many musicians had to work modest jobs and had the support from the church promoting their music. He was an insanely talented composer; a true legend. His legacy will forever be carried on for his amazing abilities as a composer. Although his life was filled with sorrow and great loss, Ludwig van Beethoven was a man who always strived to be the best under any circumstance. Despite his misfortunes, Beethoven will always be remembered as the man who created the transition from the 18th century musical classicism to the 19th century romanticism.