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  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • Beethoven, Ludwig van

    lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.5pt;font-family:"Meridien-Medium","serif"; color:black'>(17701827)

    composer

    Born in Bonn in 1770, Ludwig Beethoven was

    the son of a Flemish family of musicians who

    had immigrated to the Rhineland and established

    themselves as musicians to serve the

    Rhenish electors. At age 11 he had to leave

    school due to his fathers alcoholism. By age 12

    he was already an accomplished keyboard virtuoso

    and talented pupil of composition. His

    teacher helped him obtain a position as assistant

    organist at the court of the elector of Cologne,

    Maximilian Francis, the brother of Emperor

    JOSEPH II. The elector thought so highly of the

    young organist that he sent him to Vienna, the

    music capital of Europe, to study with Mozart.

    After two months, however, he had to return to

    BONN due to his mothers death. In 1792 he

    again went to Vienna to further his training and

    career. There he studied with HAYDN and entered

    the musical circles of the Viennese upper classes.

    Beethovens boorish and unpleasant personal

    habits combined with crude social behavior

    made it surprising that he had friends and that

    women fell in love with him. From 1792 until

    his death at age 57 Beethoven lived amid a circle

    of friends, never married, rarely traveled, and

    did not depend for income on an official position.

    His tours as a concert pianist and composer

    were successful until progressive deafness,

    which he had begun to experience before 30

    years of age, caused his playing to degenerate.

    Beethoven tried to hide his defect, which made

    communication difficult and caused him to be

    suspicious of others. He also was afflicted by

    periods of depression.

    In the three major phases of his life he composed

    nine symphonies, seven concerti, 32

    Beethoven, Ludwig van 261

    piano sonatas, and more than 67 songs (lieder).

    His First and Second Symphonies and his first

    two piano concerti were composed during the

    first period of his life. During the second period

    the Third through the Eighth Symphonies and

    the opera Fidelio were completed. His Third

    Symphony (1804) was dedicated to Napoleon,

    but then revoked when Beethoven, a convinced

    republican, learned that Napoleon had been

    crowned emperor. During the third period of his

    life he composed the Missa Solemnis (1823) and

    the Ninth Symphony (1824). In the final chorus

    of that great symphonic work, Beethoven set to

    music the hymnic verses of Schillers Ode to Joy.

    Whereas before Beethoven instrumental music

    was considered inferior to vocal music, he raised

    it to the highest artistic level and was the heir of

    Haydn.

    During the last 10 years of his life Beethovens

    music reached new heights, which included his

    last five piano sonatas and the Ninth Symphony.

    He died in Vienna in great agony on March 26,

    1827, of cirrhosis of the liver.

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