Monday, November 25, 2013


The Beethoven biography starts with his baptism. He was baptized on December 17th 1770 at Bonn. His family originated from Brabant, in Belgium. His father was a musician at the court of Bonn, with a definite weakness for alcohol. His mother was always described as 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 three boys survived, of whom Ludwig was the eldest.
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the lives of Beethoven's ancestors
Beethoven's childhoodAt an early age, van Beethoven, took an interest in music and his father taught him day and night, on returning to the house from music practice or the tavern. Without a doubt, the child was gifted and his father Johann envisioned creating a new Mozart, a child prodigy.

On March 26th 1778, at the age of 7 ½, Ludwig Van Beethoven gave his first public performance at Cologne. His father announced that he was 6 years-old. Because of this Beethoven always thought that he was younger than he actually was. Even much later, when he received a copy of his baptism certificate, he thought it belonged to his brother Ludwig Maria, who was born two years before him and died as a child.
The musical and teaching talents of Johann were limited. Soon Ludwig learned music, notably the organ and composition by renowned musicians such as Gottlob Neefe. Neefe recognized how extraordinarily talented Beethoven was and not only did Neefe teach him music, but he made the works of philosophers, ancient and modern, known to Beethoven as well.Know more about this...
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Beethoven's music teachers
In 1782, before the age of 12, Beethoven published his first work, 9 Variations in C 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 appointed organist of the court of Maximillian Franz, the Elector of Cologne. Beethoven was 14 years old. This post enabled him to frequent new social circles, other than those of his father and family. Here he met people who were to remain his friends for the rest of his life: The Ries family, the Von Breuning family, and the charming Elenore, Karl Amenda—the violinist, Franz Gerhard Wegeler—a doctor, and a dear friend who also went to Vienna.
At home, little by little, Ludwig replaced his father. First of all financially, because Johann, who was often under the influence of alcohol, was less and less capable of keeping up his role at the court. The young Beethoven felt responsible for his two younger brothers, an idea he kept for the rest of his life, sometimes to the extent of being excessive.
Ludwig van Beethoven Music
Prince Maximillian Franz was also aware of Beethoven's music and so he sent Beethoven to Vienna, in 1787, to meet Mozart and further his musical education. Vienna was, after all, the capital city in terms of culture and music. There exist only texts of disputable authenticity on the subject of this meeting between Mozart and Beethoven. Mozart is thought to have said “don’t forget his name – you will hear it spoken often!”
A letter called Beethoven back to Bonn—his mother was dying. The only person in his family with whom he had developed a strong and loving relationship with, passed away on July 17th 1787.
Five years later, in 1792, Ludwig Van Beethoven went back to Vienna, benefiting from another grant, for two years, by the Prince Elector, again to pursue his musical education. He never went back to the town of his birth. His friend Waldstein, wrote to him, “you shall receive Mozart’s spirit from Haydn’s hands…”
At Vienna, the young musician took lessons with Haydyn, then with Albrechtsberger and Salieri. He captured the attention of, and astonished Vienna with his virtuosity and his improvisations on piano. In 1794, Beethoven composed Opus 1, the Trios for Piano. The following year, Ludwig Van Beethoven made his first public performance at Vienna (an “Academy”) where each musician played his own work. Then followed a tour: Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, and Berlin, before leaving for a concert in Budapest.
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Beethoven's works
Beethoven made numerous acquaintances at Vienna. Everybody in the musical and aristocratic world admired the young composer. These music-lovers were Beethoven’s greatest supporters. He became angry regularly with one or another of them, often making honorable amends soon afterwards. His talent excused his excessive, impulsive behavior.
In 1800, Beethoven organized a new concert at Vienna including, notably, the presentation of his first symphony. Although today we find this work classical, and close to the works of Mozart and Haydn, at the time certain listeners found the symphony strange, overly extravagant, and even risqué’. This genius, Beethoven, who was still a young, new composer, was already pushing the established boundaries of music.
In 1801 Beethoven confessed to his friends at Bonn that he was afraid he was slowly going deaf. At Heiligenstadt in 1802 he wrote a famous text expressing his disgust at the unfairness of life: that he, a musician, could become deaf was something he did not want to live through. However, music made him carry on and he wrote that he knew that he still had many other musical domains to explore, discover, and to pass on. Beethoven did not commit suicide. Knowing that his handicap was getting worse and worse, he threw himself into his greatest Beethoven music; Sonatas for Piano (notably The Storm, Opus 31), the second and the third symphonies– The Eroica and of course many more.Know more about this...
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Beethoven's deafness
Beethoven wrote his third symphony in honor of a great man, Bonaparte. He was seen as the liberator of the people, opening a door to hope during the French Revolution. When the First Consul declared himself Emperor, Beethoven became enraged and scowled out Bonaparte’s name from the score.
On April 7th, 1805, the Eroica symphony was played for the first time.
Meanwhile, Beethoven had finally finished his opera, Leonore, the only opera he ever wrote. He wrote and re-wrote four different overtures. The name of the opera therefore, changed to Fidelio, against the wishes of the composer. November 20th 1805 was the date of the opening performance before a small audience of French officers. This was because Napoleon, head of the army, had captured Vienna for the first time. This happened again in 1809.Know more about this...
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the 4 overtures to this opera
In the years that followed, the creative activity of the composer became intense. He composed many symphonies, amongst which were the Pastoral, the Coriolan Overture, and the famous Letter for Elise. He took on many students that he found young and attractive, and he therefore fell in love with several of them. The Archbishop, Rudolph, brother of the emperor, 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 with the help of his wealthiest admirers: 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 that Beethoven was not to leave Vienna. Beethoven accepted. This grant made him the world's first independent composer. Before this contract musicians and composers alike (even Bach, Mozart, and Haydn), became servants in the houses of wealthy aristocratic families. They were thus part of the domestic staff, with no more rights than any other, but with the added task of composition and performance. Thus, for the musician of the day, Beethoven had outstanding circumstances and he was free to write what he wanted, when he wanted, under command or not, as he pleased.
In 1812, Beethoven went for hydrotherapy at Teplitz, where he wrote his ardent letter to “The Immortal Beloved.” This letter was found in a secret drawer with the Heiligenstadt Testament, and has led to theories and speculation by researchers and biographers ever since. Numerous women amongst his students and friends have been proposed as the recipient of this letter. Unless a new document is discovered (perhaps within the possessions of a private collector) it is likely that the truth about this mysterious woman will remain unknown. See the movie about Beethoven's Immortal Beloved.Know more about this...
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the letter to the Immortal Beloved
At the end of July 1812, Beethoven was introduced to Goethe by Bettina Brentano. These two great men admired each other, but didn’t understand each other. The composer found the poet too servile, and the poet thought that Beethoven was “completely untamed.” Beethoven admired Goethe; he put music to several of his poems. There will always be regret that Beethoven was not better understood by Goethe.
Then one of his benefactors, the Prince Lobkowitz, fell into financial difficulty and the Prince Kinski died from falling off his horse. Kinski’s descendant decided to put an end to the financial obligations towards Beethoven. This started one of the composer’s many attempts at saving his financial independence.
The Czech, Johann Nepomuk Maelzel, contacted Beethoven. Genius inventor and probable inventor of the metronome, Maelzel had already met Beethoven and 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 a mechanical instrument made by Maelzel, the “pan harmonica” (or “pan harmonicon”). But it was above all the metronome, which helped evolve music and Beethoven, who had taken interest straight away, noted scrupulously the markings on his scores, so that his music could be played how he wished.
The academy of 1814 regrouped his work, as well as the seventh and eighth symphonies. This was also the time of the re-writing of Lenore as Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera. This work eventually became successful with the public.
Then the Congress of Vienna met, which brought together all the heads of state to decide the future of Europe after Napoleon. This was one of Beethoven’s moments of glory. He was invited to play many times, bringing him recognition and admiration which made him very proud.
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Beethoven's symphonies
Beethoven Bio – Dramatic Life Changes
On November 15th 1815, Kaspar Karl, Beethoven’s brother, died. He left behind his wife, whom Ludwig referred to as “The queen of the night” due to her activities, as well as a 9 year old son, Karl. Here Beethoven’s life was to change dramatically. His brother had written that he wished Karl’s guardianship to be exercised by both his wife and his brother, Ludwig. Beethoven took this role very seriously, but the 45 year-old celibate, who could no longer hear, found it difficult to live with and understand a child and then a young man. 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 and once Beethoven’s student) became Karl’s music teacher, but didn’t find as much talent in the boy as Beethoven hoped he would possess. At this time he ended his cycle of lieder “To the distant loved one, and drafted the first theme for his ninth symphony.
Two years later, the Archduke Rudolph became Cardinal and Beethoven began composing his mass in D. It was never ready for the intonation, but the work was rich beyond compare.
Gioachino Rossini triumphed in Vienna in 1822, where he met Beethoven again. The language barrier and Beethoven’s deafness meant that they could only exchange brief words. The Viennese composer tolerated Italian opera only in moderation—he found it lacked seriousness.
The ninth symphony was practically finished in 1823, the same year as the Missa Solemnis. Liszt, who was 11, met Beethoven who came to his concerto on April 13th. He congratulated the young virtuoso heartily who, years later, transcribed the entirety of Beethoven’s symphonies for piano.Know more about this...
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How many symphonies did Beethoven write?
May 7th 1824 was the date of the first playing of the ninth symphony and despite the musical difficulties, and problems in the sung parts, it was a success. Unfortunately it was not financially rewarding. Financial problems constantly undermined the composer. He always had money saved, but he was keeping it for his nephew.
Then began the period of the last quartets of Beethoven music, which are still difficult even for today’s audience, who knows how to interpret his other works. He started to compose his tenth symphony.
Biography of Beethoven – His Final Year
In 1826, Beethoven caught a cold coming back from his brother’s place, with whom he had argued again. The illness complicated other health problems that Beethoven had suffered from all his life. He passed away surrounded by his closest friends on March 26th 1827, just as a storm broke out.
The funeral rites took place at the church of the Holy Trinity. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 30,000 people attended. Franz Schubert, timid and a huge admirer of Beethoven, without ever having become close to him, was one of the coffin bearers, along with other musicians. Schubert died the next year and was buried next to Beethoven.
The actor, Heinrich Anschutz, read the funeral prayer written by Franz Grillparzer, a great writer, in front of the doors of the Wahring cemetery, now Schubert Park.

The Story of a Composer:
Ludwig van Beethoven
A Composer Made of Fire
Table of Contents:
Beethoven’s Life _____________________________________ 
Beethoven’s Times _______________________________ 
Beethoven’s Music ___________________________________ 
What to Listen for _________________________________ 
Beethoven’s Life
Ludwig van Beethoven was a complex man consumed by a towering
genius – all the more remarkable for the deafness with which he
struggled. He lived a life driven by an unquenchable need to make
music. His legacy is music that still delights, challenges, and moves us.
Born in Bonn, Germany on December 17, 1770 (or perhaps a day
earlier according to some records), Beethoven had a miserable
childhood. He was one of seven children, only three of whom survived
to adulthood. Although he loved his gentle mother, Maria, he feared
his hard-drinking, demanding father, Johann. His father had no great
talent, but he gave music lessons to the children of the nobility. From
the time Ludwig was a small boy, turning the iron handle of window
shutters to hear the musical noise, the child had been absorbed by
music. His father recognized the boy’s ability and nurtured it, possibly
because he saw it as a source of income.
In 1787, when he was seventeen, Beethoven made his first trip to
Vienna, the city that would become his home. There, he was quickly
immersed in the life of Europe’s cultural capital, even playing the piano

for Mozart. Mozart’s prediction was: “You will make a big noise in the

Difficult Times 

Beethoven’s stay was cut short by a series of family tragedies. He
returned to Bonn to his dying mother. Shortly after, his infant sister
died. When his father lost his job, Beethoven had to take responsibility
for the family.
After his father’s death in 1792, Beethoven returned to Vienna for
good. The serious boy had grown into a man who was by turns rude
and violent, kind and generous. He helped raise money for the only
surviving child of Johann Sebastian Bach, who was living in poverty,
and he donated new compositions for a benefit concert in aid of
Ursuline nuns.
Despite his temper, Beethoven attracted friends easily. He studied
piano with composer Franz Joseph Haydn. And even though the
student-teacher relationship failed the two remained friends. In
Vienna, Beethoven also met Mozart’s rival, Antonio Salieri – the man
rumored to have poisoned Mozart. Salieri was kind to Beethoven and,
in return, Beethoven dedicated three violin sonatas to him.
Beethoven’s struggle to hear…

At the age of twenty-eight, just before writing his first symphony,
Beethoven began to lose his hearing. He tried every available
treatment and, at first, there were periods when he could hear. But in
the last decade of his life he lost his hearing completely. Nevertheless,
he continued to lead rehearsals and play the piano as late as 1814.
Possibly he “heard” music by feeling its vibrations.
As time passed, Beethoven became more and more absorbed in his
music. He began to ignore his grooming, pouring water over his head
instead of washing in a basin. On one of his beloved country walks, a
local policeman who assumed he was a tramp arrested Beethoven. His
rooms were piled high with manuscripts that nobody was allowed to
touch. He had four pianos without legs so that he could feel their
vibrations. He often worked in his underwear, or even naked, ignoring
the friends that came to visit him if they interrupted his composing.
Watch out for that temper!
The stories about Beethoven’s temper became legend: he threw hot
food at a waiter; he swept candles off a piano during a bad 
performance; he may even have hit a choirboy. His intensity spilled
over into his family life. He became embroiled in a bitter custody battle
for a nephew who attempted suicide to escape the family animosity.
Perhaps he was terrified and furious about losing the world of sound.
Perhaps he was completely preoccupied by the need to create. Despite
his behaviour, he was admired and respected for the music that
poured from him. He knew that it moved his listeners to tears, but he
responded, “Composers do not cry. Composers are made of fire.”
What about the women in Beethoven’s life?
With his talent and his larger-than-life personality, Beethoven was
popular among women. Although he never married, he dedicated such
pieces as the Moonlight Sonata and Für Elise to the women in his life.
Beethoven, Thunder and Death
In November 1826 Beethoven returned from his brother’s estate to
Vienna in an open wagon. By the time he got home he was ill with
pneumonia, from which he never fully recovered.
Late in the afternoon of March 26, 1827, the sky became dark.
Suddenly a flash of lightning lighted Beethoven’s room. A great clap of
thunder followed. Beethoven opened his eyes, raised his fist, and fell
back dead. He was fifty-seven years old.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s funeral was the final demonstration of the
esteem in which he was held. On March 29, 1827, twenty thousand
people lined the streets, while soldiers controlled the grieving crowd.
Nine priests blessed the composer’s body.
He was buried in a grave marked by a simple pyramid on which was
written one word: “Beethoven.” Today his remains lie beside those of
the Austrian composer Franz Schubert, in Vienna’s Central Cemetery.
“I shall hear in Heaven” – Beethoven’s last words

Artists Who Have Also Faced Challenges

We are haunted by the idea of Beethoven, the composer of some of
the most beautiful music the world has known, losing the sense that
must have mattered the most to him – his hearing. He was not the
only artist to have confronted, and risen to, such a challenge.
Francisco José de Goya (1746–1828), one of the great Spanish
masters, became deaf in 1792 as the result of an illness. He continued
to paint, but his work reflected his sadness.
The great French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840–1926)
found his eyesight failing him late in his life. He continued to paint,
studying his subjects so closely that the paintings appeared
fragmented like abstract art.
Edgar Degas (1834–1917), another French artist began to lose his
eyesight when he was in his fifties. He began working in sculpture and
in pastels, choosing subjects that did not require careful attention to
One of the finest artists to come out of Mexico was Frida Kahlo
(1907–1954). She began painting in 1925 while recovering from a
streetcar accident. Many of her paintings reflect the physical pain she
The Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) suffered from
seizures and depression. After quarrelling with fellow artist Paul
Gauguin (1848–1903), he sliced off a piece of his ear lobe. Van Gogh
committed suicide in 1890.
Itzhak Perlman (1945–), the wonderful Israeli violinist, became ill with
polio at the age of four. As a result of the disease, Perlman performs
and conducts from a seated position. 5
Beethoven’s Turbulent Times
Beethoven lived in a period of great turmoil. The French Revolution,
which began on July 14, 1789, rocked Europe. The ideals of the French
Revolution included equality and free speech for all. Within four years
those fine ideals devolved into the Reign of Terror that overtook
France and affected the rest of Europe. In 1798, Napoleon conquered
Egypt, beginning his rise to power. Against the political upheaval,
every aspect of human life seemed to shift. It was an age of change in
ideas, the arts, science, and the structure of society itself.
An age of the musician: Earlier in the 18th century, the Church
dominated the world of music. As time went on, the nobility began to
enjoy music and even learned to play musical instruments. Composers
and musicians were their servants. With his fiercely independent spirit,
Beethoven challenged this notion. “It is good to move among the
aristocracy,” he said, “but it is first necessary to make them respect.”
When a nobleman talked while he was performing, Beethoven stopped
playing to declare, “For such pigs I do not play!”
 Literature and art also flourished during Beethoven’s lifetime. The
first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica appeared in three volumes.
An age of exploration: In 1770 Captain James Cook circumnavigated
the globe, charting the coast of New Zealand and eastern Australia as
well as the Bering Strait. James Bruce traced the Blue Nile to its
confluence with the White Nile in 1771.
An age of invention: John Kay patented the fly shuttle in 1733,
making it possible to weave wide cloth. James Hargreaves invented
the spinning jenny in 1765, which spun many threads at the same
time. James Watt invented the steam engine, patented in 1769, and
Robert Fulton initiated steamship travel. The first railroad in England
began operation early in the eighteenth century.
Beethoven became a friend of Johann Nepomuk Malzel, the “Court
Mechanician.” He invented the musical chronometer, which in time was
refined to the metronome, a device that can be set to a specific pace
to guide the musician. Beethoven loved the chronometer and even
composed a little canon to the words “Ta ta ta (suggesting the beat of
the chronometer) lieber lieber Malzel.” 6
An age of science and mathematics: Joseph-Louis Lagrange
formulated the metric system and explained the satellites of Jupiter
and the phases of the moon. Benjamin Franklin conducted his
experiments with electricity. Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen.
Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine. Musician and
astronomer William Herschel discovered Uranus.
An age of new pastimes: Coffee drinking – which Beethoven loved –
became a part of social life. Gambling, lotteries, card-playing, chess,
checkers, dominoes, and billiards all entertained people.
Human Rights and the Arts
Throughout history, artists have used their talents to comment on
social issues. Beethoven – who lived through the French Revolution
and the Napoleonic Wars, a time of immense social and political
change in Europe and the world – responded through his music. His
only opera, Fidelio, is set in Spain and is based on the story of a
nobleman who is unjustly imprisoned for threatening to reveal the
crimes of a politician.
Beethoven’s third symphony, the Eroica, was originally dedicated to
Napoleon Bonaparte. The finale of his magnificent Ninth Symphony is
based on a poem written by the German poet Friedrich von Schiller,
with words and music that yearn for peace, joy, and the brotherhood
of man.
Like Beethoven, we have lived through enormous social and political
upheaval: world conflicts, the rise and collapse of nations, and
devastating political oppression around the world. We have also seen
hopeful changes, such as the creation of the United Nations as the
principal international organization committed to building peace and
global security.
In Beethoven’s time, as in ours, the arts have been a voice to rail
against political oppression and to make us aware of the plight of
those in the greatest need.
All the world over, ordinary men, women, and children have been
moved to action through music. “We Shall Overcome” and “Nkosi
sikelel’ iAfrika” (God Bless Africa) are two songs that carried a 7
tremendous amount of influence for Blacks in the US and in South
Africa in their struggle against racism, inequality and injustice in the
last half of the 20th century. And Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony rang
out at the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989 and at the collapse of
the Berlin Wall in 1990.
Beethoven’s Famous Peers
Beethoven was not the only composer writing music in this period.
Beethoven influenced Richard Wagner’s (-1813–1883) early
instrumental works. Franz Liszt (1811–1886) “invented” the solo piano
recital. Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) composed great operas. Frédéric
Chopin (1810–1849) and Robert Schumann (1810–1856) also
belonged to this era.
British poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), along with Samuel
Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), began the English Romantic Movement
in literature. Like Beethoven in music and Turner in painting,
Wordsworth used nature as a theme in much of his writing. Here is an
example of one of his best known poems:
I Wandered Lonely as A Cloud
by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay;
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee; 
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company;
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

The shift from the Classic to the Romantic tradition was also reflected
in the work of painters and sculptors such as the Spanish master
Francisco José de Goya and Swiss-born Angelica Kauffmann, who
produced more than five hundred paintings in her lifetime.
The painter who most closely paralleled Beethoven’s move to
Romanticism was Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796–1875). Early in
his career he painted structured landscapes, but as he matured in
works like Ville d’Avray and Memory of Mortefontaine, he showed a
more imaginative style, creating a filmy aura. 

Beethoven the Musician
A pockmarke d, un kem pt , awkw ard, brash , y et su pre mel y sel f-con fident 
youn g Beet hoven easily took his place as both performer and composer
in Vienna – the heart of musical Europe. He lived for a time in the
home of Prince Lichnowsky, an accomplished musician who studied
and played Beethoven’s new piano sonatas and paid the cost of
publishing his Opus 1.
Beethoven's initial purpose in coming to Vienna was to study with
Haydn and to learn from the great master the style of Viennese
classicism - a structured worldview where the form of things was more
important than their content. Poetry, literature, painting and music of
this Classic period were restrained and rational.
This formal, disciplined study, however, had little appeal to
Beethoven's unruly, irrepressible, revolutionary spirit. He absorbed
just what suited him, and proceeded on his own course. Thus, we
find, even in his first published compositions, a bold new voice in
music. Formally, these early works still hark back to traditional
classical forms. But the emotional intensity, rough humor, burning
energy and bold modulations reveal a creator who has struck out on a
new path.
By the 1800s, Classicism was giving way to Romanticism and this shift
was evident in Beethoven’s music.
Beethoven and Romanticism
Romanticism valued imagination and emotion over intellect and
reason. It was based on a belief that people are naturally good, that
physical passion is splendid, and that political authority and rigid
conventions should be overthrown.
Beethoven’s Romanticism transformed every kind of music he
composed. One of his most popular compositions is the Moonlight
Sonata, the second of two sonatas making up Opus 27. It became
known as the Moonlight Sonata well after Beethoven’s death, when
poet Ludwig Rellstab said that it reminded him of moonlight rippling on
the waves of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. Like all Romantic art, it
appeals to the senses more than the mind.

Beethoven’s Romance no.1 for Violin in G, Opus 40 and his Romance
no. 2 for Violin in F, Opus 50, written between 1798 and 1802, were
called romances for their light, sweet tone, almost like a song. This is
typical of the Romantic period in music: many pieces lend themselves
to being sung as well as played.
Beethoven’s movement away from Classicism and toward Romanticism
is clearest in his symphonies. Before Beethoven, symphonies,
originating in courtly dances like the minuet, had conformed to the
ideals of Classicism with rigid structure and rational form. Beethoven’s
Romantic symphonies broke out of those confines and became large,
sometimes epic structures that told a story and plumbed emotional
Beethoven the Artist
Be et hov en was m ore t han a great compose r. He was a f orce of nat ure ,
th e first im portan t musici an to break f ree successfu lly from th e
me nt ali ty of se rvant . He was an Art ist , and he wrot e f or poste rit y, not
ju st for m ere m ort al s w ho happe ned t o l ive at t he same tim e as he.
Wh en confron ted wi th ru les of h arm on y h e h ad su ppose dly brok en,
Be et hov en brusquel y ret ort ed, " I adm it the m." He was m ark edly lacki ng
in soci al grace s, bu t prou d to the poin t w he re he could say to a pri nce 
an d ben efact or, st raigh t t o his face , " What you are , i s by accide nt of 
bi rt h; what I am, I cre at ed mysel f. Th ere are, and hav e bee n,
th ou san ds of princes; t here is onl y one Be et hov en."
Did you know that Beethoven got stressed out too!
Beethoven’s first public appearance as a piano virtuoso took place
when he was twenty-five years old. He was to play his Second Piano
Concerto, but two days before the performance it was still not finished
and Beethoven was suffering from an upset stomach. He continued to
write while a friend fed him remedies and, just outside his chamber,
copyists sat waiting for the music as the composer finished writing
each sheet.
His career would be full of such last-minute scrambles. On the morning
of the concert to present an oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives, a
friend found Beethoven sitting in bed, composing the part for the
trombones. The piece had its first rehearsal at 8:00 a.m., with the
trombone players reading from the original sheets of music.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven Biography

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer and pianist, who is arguably the defining figure in the history of Western music. 
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven was born in December 1770, but no-one is completely sure on which date. He was baptized on the 17th.
  • The earliest recorded piece that Beethoven composed is a set of nine piano variations, composed in 1782.
  • Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792, where he met influential composers like Haydn and began to compose in earnest.
  • By 1796, he had begun to suffer from tinnitus and was losing his hearing.
  • Beethoven composed his Piano Sonata No. 14 ('Moonlight') in 1802.
  • The Third Symphony, known as the 'Eroica', was completed in 1804. It went on to redefine the symphony as a genre.
  • The opening motif to the Fifth Symphony from 1808 is one of the most famous musical excerpts in history.
  • The 'middle period' of Beethoven's career also saw him compose piano works like the Waldstein and Apassionata sonatas, as well as his only opera, Fidelio, which went through countless rewrites and revisions.
  • Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the 'Choral' from 1824, is another work of his that has remained infinitely popular. It was the first time that a composer had used choral voices in a major symphony.
  • Ill health and increasing deafness caused a drop in productivity at the end of Beethoven's life, but he still managed to produce important works like his 'Late Quartets' in 1825, which were wildly inventive for the time.
  • Beethoven died in Vienna on the 26th March 1827 after a long illness that has variously been attributed to alcohol, hepatitis, cirrhosis and pneumonia.
Did you know?
Beethoven composed only one opera, Fidelio, which took years to get right. He re-wrote one aria no fewer than 18 times and came up with four different overtures before deciding upon the one he liked.

Beethoven's history: 1770 - 1802

1770 A genius is born

17 December: Beethoven baptised in the church of St Remigius, Bonn. The date of his birth is not recorded, but since it was customary for baptisms to take place within 24 hours of birth, it is likely he was born on 16 December.


24 December: Beethoven's beloved grandfather, KapellmeisterLudwig van Beethoven, dies.


8 April: Beethoven's brother Caspar Carl baptised.


2 October: Beethoven's brother Nikolaus Johann baptised.

1778 First public appearance

26 March: Beethoven's first known public performance, in Cologne. His father advertised his age as six years, although he was in fact seven, probably to draw favourable comparisons with the child prodigy Mozart. He played 'various clavier concertos and trios'.


Beethoven begins lessons with Gottlob Neefe, who writes of him in Cramer's Magazin der Musik: 'He plays the clavier very skilfully and with power [and] reads at sight very well ..... This youthful genius is deserving of help to enable him to travel. He would surely become a second Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were he to continue as he has begun.'


14 October: Beethoven publishes the three Kurfürsten Piano Sonatas, dedicated to the Elector of Cologne and Münster, Maximilian Friedrich.


Beethoven appointed assistant court organist alongside Neefe.

1787 Meets Mozart

April: Beethoven achieves his long-held ambition to travel to Vienna to meet Mozart, almost certainly thanks to the intervention of his patron Count Waldstein with the new Elector, Maximilian Franz. Barely two weeks after arriving, and having impressed Mozart so much he agrees to take him on as a pupil, Beethoven has to return to Bonn where his mother is dying of consumption. By the time he returns to Vienna nearly five years later, Mozart is dead.

17 July: Beethoven's mother, Maria Magdalena, dies.


Beethoven's father, Johann, a tenor singer, is forced to retire from the electoral choir, after his increased drinking ruined his voice. On one occasion, after becoming drunk in public, he was arrested - only to be released after Ludwig had pleaded with the police. Because of his alcoholism, he was ordered by the Elector to be banished to a village away from Bonn, and half his salary paid to Ludwig. In fact he remained in Bonn, and for appearance's sake he received his full retirement salary, making half of it over to his son privately.

1790 Cantata on the Death of Joseph II; the Cantata on the Elevation of Leopold II

Beethoven composes the Cantata on the Death of Joseph II, and the Cantata on the Elevation of Leopold II. The musicians of the electoral orchestra refuse to perform the first, claiming it is unplayable.
December: Haydn passes through Bonn on his way to London. He meets Beethoven, who shows him his scores of the two Cantatas. Haydn, impressed, encourages him to come to Vienna where, he promises, he will take him on as a pupil.

1791 The Ritterballet

Beethoven composes the Ritterballet, allowing his patron Count Waldstein to claim it as his own composition.
Beethoven goes with the electoral orchestra on a trip to Mergentheim. On the boat, which sails up the Rhine and the Main, he is appointed kitchen scullion.

5 December Mozart dies.

1792 Leaves for Vienna

November: Beethoven, one month short of his 22nd birthday, leaves Bonn for Vienna to study with Haydn. He has been given six months leave of absence by the elector. In fact he stays in Vienna for the rest of his life - never to return to his home town.

18 December: Beethoven's father dies.


Beethoven begins lessons with Haydn. The city's most influential musical patrons -- particularly Prince Lichnowsky - take Beethoven under their wing, and put him forward to take on the city's piano virtuosos in improvisation contests. One after the other he defeats them and quickly establishes his reputation as the finest piano virtuoso in Vienna.

1794 Piano Trios op. 1.

Caspar Carl moves to Vienna.
Beethoven begins composing Piano Trios op. 1.

1795 Piano Sonatas op. 2

29 March: Beethoven's first public performance in Vienna, where he premieres either his First or Second Piano Concerto.
Beethoven composes Piano Sonatas op. 2.
Beethoven performs the Piano Trios before Haydn, who is critical of no. 3, advising against publication. Beethoven is furious, but he heals the rift with his teacher when he dedicates the Piano Sonatas to him.
Nikolaus Johann moves to Vienna.

1796 Cello Sonatas op. 5

Beethoven travels with Prince Lichnowsky to Prague, where he gives a concert. He goes on to Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin. In Berlin he composes the Cello Sonatas op. 5.

1797 First performances of Quintet op. 16

Beethoven gives the first performance of Quintet op. 16 at Jahn's restaurant in the Himmelpfortgasse.
In the summer of this year he falls seriously ill. It is possibly typhus and could mark the beginning of his deafness.

1798 Trios op. 9; the Trio op. 11; the three Violin Sonatas op. 12

In an extraordinary burst of creativity at the start of the year, Beethoven completes the Piano Sonatas op. 10, composes the three string Trios op. 9, the Trio op. 11, and the three Violin Sonatas op. 12. Later in the year he begins work on the Septet op. 20 and composes the huge Pathétique Sonata op. 13.

1799 First String Quartets op. 18

Beethoven meets the double bass virtuoso Domenico Dragonetti, performing a cello (!) sonata with him.
Beethoven composes his first String Quartets op. 18, and begins work on Symphony no. 1.

1800 Premiere of the First Symphony

Beethoven defeats the celebrated Prussian piano virtuoso Daniel Steibelt in an improvisation contest at the palace of Prince Lobkowitz, and is never again asked to take part in an improvisation contest. His position as Vienna's greatest piano virtuoso is secure and remains unchallenged for the rest of his life.
2 April: Beethoven's first benefit concert, at the Burgtheater in Vienna. He premieres the Septet and the First Symphony, and performs one of his two completed Piano Concertos. He also improvises on the piano. At the concert he meets Archduke Rudolph, accompanied by his mother, Empress Theresia.
Beethoven begins work on Symphony no. 2.

1801 Moonlight Sonata

Beethoven composes music for The Creatures of Prometheus.
Beethoven's great friend from his childhood in Bonn, Stephan von Breuning, moves to Vienna.
29 June: In a long letter to his old friend Dr Franz Wegeler in Bonn, Beethoven mentions his deafness for the first time. '...for the last three years my hearing has become worse...'
26 July: Elector Max Franz dies at Hetzendorf, Vienna. Beethoven subsequently changes the dedication of his First Symphony to Baron van Swieten.
October: Ferdinand Ries, son of Franz Ries the leader of the electoral orchestra in Bonn, arrives in Vienna. Beethoven welcomes him and takes him on as secretary.
Beethoven falls in love with Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, and dedicates the Sonata quasi una Fantasia to her. Many years later, after his death, it acquires the nickname Moonlight Sonata.

1802 Symphony no. 2

Baron Braun refuses Beethoven his anticipated benefit concert.
April: Beethoven moves to Heiligenstadt north of Vienna for the summer to relieve his hearing. In Heiligenstadt he composes the Prometheus (Eroica) Variations op. 35 and the three Piano Sonatas op. 31. He completes Symphony no. 2.
6 October: Beethoven writes the Heiligenstadt Testament, his last will and testament, publicly acknowledging his deafness for the first time ... "Oh, all you people who think or say that I am hostile to you, or that I am stubborn, or that I hate mankind, you do not realise the wrong that you do me...I am deaf ..."

Beethoven's childhood. 1770-1792

Beethoven's Birth and Family

Beethoven was born in December 1770 in Bonn, in a family of musicians at the royal court of Cologne. His name was given after his grandfather, who was Flemish and who settled in Bonn in 1732. He was a bass player at court, and later, starting with 1761, he became maestro of the chapel.
     Beethoven’s father, Johann, left many unpleasant memories in his son’s existence. Undoubtedly talented, Johann was not only incapable of being a positive influence on his genius son’s education, but, at times, he was outright prejudicial. In 1767 Johann marries Maria-Magdalena Kewerich the daughter of the chief cook at the Coblenz court, a 19-year-old widow. Her first husband had been a butler at court. Maria-Magdalena was one of the most radiant figures in Beethoven's childhood. Her kind, affectionate and gentle character did not stop her from manifesting great self-restraint, amazing will and extraordinary wit if the situation called for it. She had remarkable tact in dealing with her loved ones as well as with strangers.
     In December 1770 Maria-Magdalena gives birth to a baby boy whom she names Ludwig. The exact date of birth is unknown; however the records show that the baptising took place on December 17th 1770 so the most probable date of birth is December 16th.

The First Years in Bonn

Ludwig spent the first years of his childhood with his family, in a harmonious and fruitful atmosphere. Johann Beethoven had a good financial situation at the time, although somewhat moderate. Old Ludwig, the composer’s grandfather, was supporting the weak and feeble Johann both morally and financially.
     When Ludwig turned five, the Beethoven family moved to Rhine Street, in the house of a baker named Fischer. The Rhine’s right bank revealed itself before the windows of the house, with its small villages and fields as well as the seven mountains rising ahead. Little Ludwig was sometimes completely captured in a deep meditation upon looking at the marvelous river. One could hardly get him out of this state.
      Even as a child he stood apart through a rare capacity to focus and through his introvert nature. However, one must not picture little Ludwig as a self-encased melancholic. On the contrary, he was a vigorous youngster not much different from other scoundrels his age. At least this is the image portrayed by Fischer’s manuscript(the baker’s son, Ludwig’s youngest friend, left some indications about Beethoven’s childhood, although not very accurate). Ludwig’s hot temper manifested itself in his passionate affection or, on the contrary, his direct repulsion towards certain people, or in his attitude towards the events of everyday life, in his sense of humor, in his disposition to laugh as much as he could.
THe house in which Beethoven was born on the 16th of December 1770     Until the age of ten, Ludwig went to primary school, but the years he actually spent in school gave him little knowledge. He could not further his studies due to his family’s poor financial status. We could say that until this period, Beethoven's childhood was that of any normal child of his age.

Little Mozart

Becoming aware of his son’s extraordinary talent, Johann thinks of turning young Beethoven into a new Mozart (whose childhood success was still vivid in people’s minds). In this respect, he tries to provide Ludwig with a musical education that might enhance his remarkable abilities. In fact, from this point on, Beethoven's childhood will be marked by his father's cruel attempts to transform him into a music genius.
     Until the age of 12 his studies lacked any systematic organization. Among his teachers there was one of the court’s musicians, a certain Eden, followed by actor Tobias Pfeifer and Franciscan monk Willibald Koch.
     In March 1778, Johann forces Ludwig to hold a concert in Koeln. At that time Beethoven was 8 years old.
Christian-Gottlob Neefe, Beethoven's first teacher.

The First Teacher

In 1782, Beethoven finds his first real teacher – Christian-Gottlob Neefe, the musical director of the national theatre in Bonn. As a true scholar, Neefe became a mentor for Beethoven, showing him the advanced ideas of his century. In 1783, Neefe wrote about Beethoven in a musical magazine: " This young genius deserves to be supported in his artistic endeavors. If he continues in the same manner he started, he is sure to become a second Wolfgang-Amadeus Mozart ". Neefe was Ludwig’s devoted friend for many years, including his childhood. Beethoven held the highest esteem for him, so, in 1793 he wrote to him: "If I ever will amount to anything, this will undoubtedly be your merit. "

Beethoven's Youth. 1770-1792

Begining to Learn. Beethoven's First Compositions

Neefe becomes aware not only of his student’s genius, but also of his minuses: lack of self-restraint, discipline and culture. In order to reach a certain level, Beethoven was supposed to thoroughly study the creations of the great composers before him. Thus, he starts with the study of Bach and Handel and continues with that of his contemporaries: Mozart, Haydn and Philipp-Emmanuel Bach.
     Young Beethoven’s first known composition – variations for piano on a march theme by Dressler – long forgotten today – dates from 1782. His next work, which still holds a certain importance today, is made up of three sonatas for harpsichord and it was written in 1783 when Beethoven had not yet turned 13. The composition was dedicated to Max-Friederich – the old prince of Cologne. These kinds of dedications were not completely disinterested, since musicians often hoped to gain financial advantages from that. Nevertheless, the financial status of Beethoven’s family remained unaltered.
At the age of 14, the composer’s creation had improved, mostly influenced by Mozart, with various songs and compositions for piano, quartets, and even a concert for piano, out of which only parts remained. At the age of 16, Ludwig already had somewhat of a reputation in Bonn. He taught music lessons and held concerts at aristocratic residences, as well as at court. His fervent harpsichord improvisations held his audience in complete awe. Ludwig’s first compositions, sonatas, quartets, lieds, could easily be compared to the works of well-known German composers of that time. Every so often, they were proof of how the young composer attempted to create a new universe out of musical images.
Beethoven at 14.Picutre by unknown artist

Vienna for the First Time. Studying with Mozart

However, young Beethoven was no longer satisfied with what Bonn’s artistic life had to offer. Already an ardent Mozart fan, Beethoven decides to go to Vienna in 1787,, in order to study with Mozart. There is little information on Beethoven’s first trip to Vienna. The date of his departure, as well as the length of his stay there, are virtually unknown. However, it is known that in 1787 Mozart found time to listen to him although at that time he was completely absorbed by the composition of Don Juan. The young composer brilliantly improvised on a theme suggested by Mozart, astonishing his entire audience. After having listened to him, Mozart said: " watch out for that boy. One day he will give the world something to talk about". Beethoven started taking lessons with Mozart.

The Family Problems

The news of his mother’s illness determines Beethoven to put on hold his newfound life in Vienna and to return to Bonn. After her death in 1787, Beethoven’s troubles become all the more stringent. He is frequently ill and Johann Beethoven’s behavior becomes intolerable, up to the point where Ludwig asks the prince to give him custody of his two younger siblings. It was decided that half of Johann’s salary of 200 talers was to be used for the raising of the two children. After taking his salary, Johann regularly gave half of it to his older son. For another five years, until his death, wretched Johann Beethoven was a disgrace to his family and the ridicule of the whole community. Doctor Franz Gerhard Wegeler, one of Beethoven’s closest friends      These aspects of his life left deep scars in Beethoven’s existence. He nevertheless found comfort and support in the love of a Bonn family, the Breunings, to whom he always remained close. Sweet „Lorchen”, Eleonora von Breuning was two years younger than him. Beethoven was her music teacher, sharing with her the secrets of poetry. Eleonora was his childhood friend and, who knows if there was no romantic involvement between them. She later married doctor Franz Gerhard Wegeler, one of Beethoven’s closest friends. And up to the very end, the relationship between them remained under the auspices of friendship, as their sincere and compassionate letters show (alter treuter Freund, Guter lieber Wegeler)

Meeting Haydn. Vienna for the Second Time

Playing in Neefe’s orchestra, from 1788 until 1792 (when he moves to Vienna), was an excellent opportunity for him to practice and to become acquainted with the most popular operas of his time. His last years in Bonn meant an intense spiritual accomplishment for young Beethoven. He embraced the progressive ideas of his century, in poetry, drama and opera.
      Another important aspect of this period is his admittance at the Bonn University on May 14th 1789. Also, during these years, he has the opportunity to meet oldJoseph Haydn , who stops at Bonn twice on his way from Vienna to London and back. He commends one of Beethoven’s compositions from 1790 written at the death of Joseph II. Subsequently, Beethoven decides to go to Vienna to continue his studies with Germany’s greatest composer at that time

Beethoven's Rise to fame. 1792-1805

The First Years in Vienna. Studying with Haydn

After leaving Bonn on the 2nd or 3rd of November, Beethoven reaches Vienna on November 10th, ready to set a new life for himself. It takes him around three months (until the end of December) to settle all the arrangements (accommodation, his piano, the arrangements with Haydn). Beethoven’s lessons with Haydn lasted for over a year, and were finished once the latter left for London. Anyway, it seems that although their relationship started out as affectionate, the lack of time and Haydn’s age combined with Beethoven's temper diminished the quality of their lessons.
     In his first years in Vienna, Beethoven manages to make his name known in the musical circles. He frequently holds concerts for the nobility of the time. He had somewhat closer relations to Prince Karl Lichowsky and a certain van Swieten.After finishing his lessons with Haydn, the composer starts to study with Johann Schenk, Alois Forster, Johann-Georg Albrechtsberger and Antonio Salieri with whom he was friends. So, one can safely say that Beethoven was the student of Vienna’s greatest pedagogues at that time.
German composer, Joseph Haydn

Learning From the Best

Mozart and Haydn, his greatest predecessors, served as a paradigm of creative work in the new direction of Classicism. Albrechtsbergerthoroughly taught him the art of counterpoint, which brought Beethoven his glory. Salieri taught the young composer the artistic matters of the bourgeois musical tragedy. Alois Forster taught him the art of composition with quartets. In other words, the genius musician voraciously absorbed not only the progressive music of his time, but also the richest creative experience of the most erudite contemporary composers. The musical knowledge he acquired and interpreted, together with an unmatched capacity to constantly work, makes Beethoven one of the most knowledgeable composers of his time.

Money Issues

Financially, the first two years in Vienna were very difficult for Beethoven. His first home was in a basement. He had to spend money for furniture, a piano, wood, clothes, in order to make a name for himself in the musical world. Even if his sense of style, as far as clothes went, was more than shabby, his talent and personality helped him improve his financial situation. Most of his acquisitions were gifts from aristocrats, in the saloons of whom he held concerts. Later, money came from author’s rights – he managed to publish his works right from the start, which was not an easy thing at that time. In the first years of his stay in Vienna he raised the extra money he needed from public concerts and tours. He didn’t like to be a teacher; nevertheless he gave private lessons, especially to young aristocratic girls. Usually they took lessons until they got married, after which they almost completely abandoned them. Among Beethoven’s students there were also famous pianists, talented and distinguished ladies like Tereza Brunswik or Dorothea Ertmann.
Beethoven at 23.Picutre by Horneman

Playing in the First Academy

Beethoven’s fame was growing by the day. On March 29th-30th 1795, Beethoven was invited to his first "Academy" – a charity event for the widows and orphans of musicians. On December 16th 1795, the already famous Beethoven was invited to Haydn’s "Academy", despite the tense relationship between the two. In the same period, Beethoven had the satisfaction of yet another victory. For the artist’s annual ball, Vienna’s most acclaimed composers wrote dances: waltz, ecossaise, German dances, quadrille, minuet, etc. The dances of Haydn, Kozeluch, Dittersdorf and others were successful, but were never performed twice. Beethoven’s dances, written in 1795, were very much treasured – after two years they were reiterated with the same success, and, they were even printed in transcripts for piano.

Touring Prague and Berlin. Virtuoso and Composer

In February 1796, Beethoven goes on tour in Prague and Berlin accompanied by prince Lichnowsky (one of his protectors, a nobleman and an admirer of his work). He is very successful in both cities, even if in Berlin the manner in which the audience received his work disappointed Beethoven. Pedagogue Carl Czerny, Beethoven’s future student, describes the composer’s improvisations: " His improvisation was crystalline and worthy of admiration at the utmost degree." In whatever company he might have found himself, Beethoven knew how to make an impression, so that no eye remained dry, many even bursting into tears upon listening to his music. Once, after finishing an improvisation, he started laughing, thus satirizing the listeners who had let their emotions loose, upon listening to his music. “You fools!” he said, seemingly offended by such proof of admiration, “who can live among such spoiled children?”
     Beethoven’s success continued. He held a concert in Prague and appeared in public twice holding two piano concertos (Op.15 and Op.19). As a virtuoso, Beethoven was favorite in Vienna’s musical life and in that of the whole German countries. Joseph Wolffl, Mozart’s student, was the only one who could compete with Beethoven – the pianist. Unmatched clarity and precision, serenity, grace, beautiful, moderate sonority, technical perfection, lack of “romantic fantasies” in the sense of diminishing sounds, so much in fashion at the time – they all made Wolffl’s performance truly remarkable. But Beethoven was still superior because he was not only an outstanding pianist, but also a genius creator.
     In a span of five years (1795-1799) Beethoven created various works. The most important of them are the piano sonatas. In the same period, he came up with the ideas for the extraordinary string quartets (Op.18) and for Symphony No. 1, works that promoted a whole new instrumental style.

Beethoven's Rise to fame. The 1792-1805 Period.

Beethoven's First Academy

The house in Heiligenstadt, in which Beethoven wrote his testament
On April 2nd 1800, Beethoven’s first " Academy " took place. The great " Academy " of a virtuoso or of a famous musical performer was different from ordinary concerts. In those times, an " Academy ", which also had outside performers, started with a great composition for orchestra. If the " Academy " was organized by a pianist, the most part of the concert was made up of improvisations. If the person who held the concert was also a composer (it’s known that the vast majority of pianists also wrote music), then the most part of the concert was made up of original compositions. “Academies” were never shorter than four hours, usually beginning at 6:30 in the evening and ending at 10:30. If it happened that a great aristocrat liked the artist, he often bought most tickets, offering him money and precious gifts.
     The press was more than benevolent towards Beethoven’s “Academy”. However, Symphony No. 1 raised several critiques. The chronicler of Allegmeine Musikalische Zeitung of Leipzig wrote: “The Symphony stands apart through its virtuosity, novelty and abundance of ideas; however, there are too many wind instruments, so the overall impression is that of wind music, rather than the sonority of a great symphonic orchestra.”

The First Signs of Deafness. The Heiligenstadt Testament

In the years that followed Beethoven became the teacher of several students, such as Ferdinand Ries, Carl Czerny or Dorothea Ertmann, one of Germany’s best pianists. Although successes came one after another, a very serious problem was making his life difficult. On June 1st 1801 he wrote his friend Karl Amenda: " You are not one of my Viennese friends. No, you are one of those friends who are born in the land of my country. How often I wish you were here with me. Your Beethoven is most wretched. The noblest part of my existence, my sense of hearing, is very weak. I felt the symptoms even at the time when we were living together, but I had kept this from you then. And now it’s only getting worse. Will I ever be cured? All I have is faith, although I have doubts, because these illnesses are, more often than not, incurable…" although he went to several doctors and underwent various treatments, Beethoven’s illness became so serious, that starting with 1814-1816 he resorted to conversation notebooks.
     Undoubtedly, Beethoven felt most wretched because of his illness, especially during the first years. The highest degree of despair is probably best rendered in his famous Heiligenstadt Testament, found among the composer’s documents, after his death. It was written in October 1802 in a country house in the Heiligenstadt village, not far from Vienna, where Beethoven stayed in complete solitude for half a year (from the spring of 1802 until the fall of the same year) following doctor Schmidt’s recommendation.

The Musical Master.

By the age of 35, Beethoven had become a prominent cultural personality in Germany. His piano concerts were performed all over Europe, the press no longer criticized him, if only so cautiously, and his admirers ardently promoted his work. Even though he became practically deaf, his work did not seem to suffer at all. Between 1806 and 1809 alone, he composed three symphonies, four concerts, an overture, several sonatas and many other works.      But the amazing image of Beethoven’s creative activity came in striking contrast to his personal life. He was confronted with loneliness, personal discontent, financial troubles, ineffectiveness in the household and many other small and pressing matters of his everyday life. Due to his financial troubles, overwhelmed by distrust, he was often on the verge of accusing innocent people of deceit.
     As to his daily program, Beethoven rigorously divided his time. He woke up very early in the morning and worked until noon – better said, he wrote down what he had composed the evening before. The rest of the time, he spent meditating and putting his ideas in order, which he best did when walking alone at a rapid pace. His deafness became more and more severe. In the summer of 1807 he started having health problems accompanied by excruciating headaches.

Artistic Maturity. The 1805-1815 Period.

Deafness and Lost Loves

The period between 1805 and 1815 is that of full artistic maturity. This is when he wrote many of his most valuable works: Symphony IVSymphony No.5Symphony No. 7, numerous piano concertos (Op. 78, 79, 81), overtures and quartets. On a personal level, things were not going so well. In 1806, when deafness set in, Beethoven said:”May your deafness not be a secret, not even where art is concerned.”
     Whereas love is concerned, Beethoven continuously looked for happiness, without much success however. After his relationship with Giulietta Giucciardi, he was captivated for several years by a certain countess Josephine Deym. This young widow was one of Giulietta’s cousins and the sister of Franz and Teresa Brunswick. For a while, Josephine took piano lessons with Beethoven and was a pretty good singer. The composer shared with her his most intimate thoughts. In 1805 their relationship altered, perhaps because her family would not have accepted a marriage between Beethoven and Josephine.
It is likely that during the 1806-1809 period a close friendship developed between the composer and Therese Brunswick. To this very day, the exact nature of their relationship is uncertain. However it’s certain that this remarkable woman was devoted to Beethoven her whole life and for a while she even responded to his passionate feelings. Apparently, love was not to bring Beethoven long lasting happiness.
Therese Brunswick, one of Beethoven's closest friends.

Financial Problems and Protectors.

Moreover, these sentimental problems were overlapped by financial ones. Beethoven’s protectors, as much as they appreciated his music, were not quick to make his life easier. A relevant episode in this respect is linked to the subordination on January 1st 1807 of the imperial theatre houses and of the Viennese Theatre to a committee made up of representatives of the nobility. Taking Count Lobkowitz’s advice, Beethoven applies for the position of permanent composer of the imperial theatres. The nobility, not only did not accept Beethoven’s proposition, but didn’t even write him back. Subsequently, Beethoven developed a powerful feeling of resentment towards the nobility in general. It must be said that some of the members of the committee, like Lobkowitz, genuinely treasured Beethoven. Nevertheless their efforts to convince the others that Beethoven could perform his duties honorably must have been insufficient.
     After having been rejected, Beethoven started thinking more and more seriously about moving to another city. In the fall of 1808, he was offered a position as chapel maestro at the court of Jerome Bonaparte, the king of Westphalia. His repulsion towards Vienna and the significant financial advantages promised at Kassel (the capital of Westphalia) determined Beethoven to accept the position.
     In order to stop him from leaving Vienna, the Archduke Rudolf, Count Kinsky and Prince Lobkowitz, upon interventions from the composer’s friends, pledged to pay Beethoven a pension of 4000 florins a year. He accepted and remained in Vienna. But even from the start his pension came irregularly; only Archduke Rudolf paid his share at the established date. Kinsky, called for military duty that year, systematically forgot to pay and Lobkowitz stopped paying in September 1811. Around that same period Kinsky fell off his horse and died. His successors refused to continue the payments for Beethoven’s pension. In the end, in 1815, after insistent pressure, Beethoven received for several years a large amount of money, which should have covered his debts. All in all, this period was somewhat better financially since the composer got some money through selling his author’s rights to editors.
Therese Malfatti

Beethoven and Therese Malfatti

In 1810, Beethoven’s life was marked by an event that caused him much suffering. In the spring of 1809, the forty-year-old composer fell in love with a student – the beautiful eighteen-year-old Therese Malfatti. The composer considered the esteem and devotion Tereza held for him to be love. So confident in his future with this young girl, Beethoven even thought of marriage (in a letter to his good friend Wegeler, he asked for his birth certificate from Bonn required for marriage).

The Legend of Fur Elise

But his wish never came true. In fact there is a small story related to this. In the spring of 1810 he was invited to the Malfatti household for a party thrown by Therese’s father for his acquaintances and business partners. Beethoven wanted to propose marriage to her on that night after playing a bagatelle he had composed especially for her. Unfortunately he got so drunk that night that he was unable to play or to propose to anyone. All he could do is write Therese’s name on the title page of the bagatelle. He wrote : " Fur Therese ", but in almost illegible writing. When the manuscript was found (on Therese’s death) it was published but since the writing was illegible it became " Fur Elise"..

Artistic Maturity. 1805-1815

The Immortal Beloved Letter

However, chance has it that the same year, 1810, Beethoven met a person to which he will forever be linked in friendship. That person was Bettina Brentano-Arnim, the sister-in-law of the daughter of a certain Birckenstock, one of Austria’s important Enlightenment representatives. Bettina, a person with remarkable intellectual qualities, appreciated Beethoven from their first encounter, the feeling being mutual. She will facilitate the meeting between Beethoven and another giant of German culture – Goethe. They will meet in the summer of 1812 in the Czech resort, Teplitz.
Moreover, Beethoven’s visit in Teplitz was not important solely because of the meeting with Goethe, but also because of an enigmatic letter, which later caused so many comments and suppositions. This document is known under the name of "Letter to the Immortal Beloved ". To this very day, it was impossible to establish who was the addressee of this letter and under what circumstances it got back to Beethoven. It was established that it was written in Teplitz in 1812, while biographers dated it before that. This letter was found the day after Beethoven’s death in the secret compartment of an old drawer, together with a picture of Tereza Brunswick, as well as other documents and valuables. The letter was either sent to the addressee and was later returned, or it was never sent altogether.
     The letter may have been addressed to Tereza Brunswick. This woman undoubtedly played a positive role in Beethoven’s life. They were linked through a yearlong friendship and affection for each other. In order to understand why the 42-year-old composer wrote his 37-year-old friend such a letter, one must restore the entire process of their reciprocal relations. The event itself is all the more remarkable since Tereza Brunzwick is one of the most important and with the greatest potential of all the women who were ever the object of Beethoven’s affection.
Therese Brunswick, one of Beethoven's closest friends.     Romain Rolland, who became acquainted with Tereza’s intimate diaries, cautiously concludes: " The assumptions about the immortal lover do not seem incompatible with what I have learned of the circumstances of that time." Besides this, Romain Rolland admits that there are a great number of bizarre coincidences, which may point towards Tereza as the immortal lover. Romain Rolland later changes his view regarding this, inclining to believe that the addressee of the letter is an unknown woman.
     One of the most recent theories regarding the Immortal Beloved is the one of Maynard Solomon. The biographer considers that the letters were addressed to Antonie Brentano. There are several clues that indicate this hypothesis as there are some that go against it. So the mystery remains.
The last page of the third Immortal Beloved Letter

Beethoven and Goethe

Going back to Beethoven’s stay at Teplitz, it is safe to say that during the first days he lived alone, solely minding his health. The atmosphere there created by the gathered aristocracy annoyed the composer. On July 14th he wrote to an acquaintance about Teplitz: " There are few people and among these, none of them stands apart. That is why I live alone! Alone! Alone!" Nevertheless, his solitude soon ended. On July 24th Bettina Brettano and her husband came to Teplitz. His greatest joy, however, was around July 15th when Goethe came to visit him. Goethe wrote down in his journal several meetings he had with the composer. On July 19th the poet visited him and wrote to his wife: &qout I have never met such solemn an artist, so energetic and so profound. I can only imagine how amazing he behaves with those around him." The next day they both took a long walk.
     On July 21st, after his second visit to Beethoven, Goethe wrote in his journal: " He played wonderfully." On July 23rd, the poet visited the composer again. But by the end of Beethoven’s stay at Teplitz the relationship between the two deteriorated. Two weeks after his meeting with Goethe, Beethoven wrote in a letter: " The atmosphere at court is much to the liking of Goethe, more than a poet should. Is there any point in talking about the ridiculous infatuation of virtuosos, when poets, who should be regarded as the nation’s first tutors, forget everything for the sake of their own pleasure?"
     In his turn, in a letter to a friend, composer Zelter from Berlin, Goethe let him know of his meeting with Beethoven: " I met Beethoven. His talent astonished me; nevertheless, he unfortunately has a tumultuous personality, which is not completely wrong in thinking the world repulsive, but undoubtedly he makes no effort to render it more pleasant to himself or to others. He must be shown forgiveness and compassion, for he is loosing his hearing, thing that affects less his musical side, but more his social one. As laconic as he usually is, he is even more so due to his disability."
Beethoven and Goethe during their incident in Teplitz

The Separation of Two Great Minds

But the event that permanently altered the relationship between the two was the encounter of a group of aristocrats on the streets of Teplitz. Bettina Brettano tells the story of that encounter as such: " As they were walking together, Beethoven and Goethe crossed paths with the empress, the dukes and their cortege. So Beethoven said to Goethe: Keep walking as you did until now, holding my arm, they must make way for us, not the other way around. Goethe thought differently; he drew his hand, took off his hat and stepped aside, while Beethoven, hands in pockets, went right through the dukes and their cortege, barely miming a saluting gesture. They drew aside to make way for him, saluting him friendlily. Waiting for Goethe who had let the dukes pass, Beethoven told him: " I have waited for you because I respect you and I admire your work, but you have shown too great an esteem to those people. "
      Clearly, this led to a tacit rupture in their relationship. Subsequently, Goethe never mentioned Beethoven’s name again and after a few years he never returned one of the composer’s letters. Nevertheless, Beethoven held the highest respect for the poet, even trying to rekindle the old friendship, but his efforts were in vain.

Beethoven's Last Years. 1815-1827

Beethoven's nephew, Karl

The last 12 years of Beethoven’s life were marked, at least in the first part, by his struggle with the wife of his brother Karl-Kaspar who died in late 1815, for the custody of their son Karl. This boy caused Beethoven many troubles. Apparently, even though he was a gifted child, Karl had two major faults: he was lazy and dishonest. Beethoven’s fight with Johanna (Karl-Kaspar’s wife) went on for 5 years. In the end, he gained custody of Karl.
Financial troubles still haunted the composer, who struggled to find a viable solution. As determined and bold as he was in his creation and in political issues, he was just as weak in every day matters. Devoted friends tried their best to help him. English pianist, Charles Neate, who met Beethoven in 1815, together with Ferdinand Ries, established in London, advised the composer to hold a concert in the capital of England. Here, he had a certain reputation, which might have insured him a large income. Beethoven, who had wanted to hold a concert for a long time, burned with desire to visit London. The British Philharmonic sent him an official invitation. The conditions were marvelous. But, at the last minute Beethoven was still undecided due to his illness and to the fact that he felt he could not let his nephew alone for too long, so he declined the so generous invitation.
Ferdinand Ries one of Beethoven's late friends.

The Grand Academy

Another important event of this period is Beethoven’s grand " Academy " during which Symphony No. 9 and three movements of the Missa solemnis were first performed. The " Academy " took place on May 7th 1824 at the Karntnertor Theater and it was repeated on May 23rd in the great hall of the Fort. The conductor was Umlauf; at the beginning of every part, Beethoven, who sat by the stage, gave the tempos. The success was smashing. Despite the obvious negligence of the interpreters who had been gathered in a rush, Beethoven’s compositions left a memorable impression on his audience. The soprano and alto parts were interpreted by two famous young singers: Henriette Sonntag and Caroline Unger.

Standing Ovations

At the end of the " Academy ", Beethoven received standing ovations. But word has it that he had his back to the public, plunged in deep thought in the silence caused by his deafness and could not see the audience. So, then, Caroline Unger took the composer’s hand and turned him to the public. The whole audience acclaimed him through standing ovations five times; there were handkerchiefs in the air, hats, raised hands, so that Beethoven, who could not hear the applause, could at least see the ovation gestures. The theatre house had never seen such enthusiasm in applause.
     At that time, it was customary that the imperial couple be greeted with three ovations at their entrance in the hall. The fact that a private person, who wasn’t even employed by the state, and all the more, was a musician (class of people who had been perceived as lackeys at court), received five ovations, was in itself inadmissible, almost indecent. Police agents present at the concert had to break off this spontaneous explosion of ovations. Beethoven left the concert deeply moved.
     Even so, the hard part was yet to come: the " Academy " raised a total of 2000 guldens, but the net gaining barely reached 420 guldens. Thus Beethoven gained practically nothing as a result of his success. The hard earned money was spent on treatments and on the raising of his nephew.
Beethoven's hearing instruments     In the beginning of 1826, Beethoven’s medical condition worsened when Karl attempted suicide as a result of serious gambling debts. His adored nephew’s reckless gesture aged Beethoven even more. He never recovered from this absurd blow, unlike Karl who soon went back to normal. Seeing that he cannot handle raising Karl alone, he asked his brother, Johann, to promise him that after his death, he would take care of the child.

The Last Days

In his last days, Beethoven’s friends, Schindler, Hutenbrenner and Stephan Breuring, stood by his side. He spent these last days in a shabby room, in an unsuitable atmosphere for a sick person, far from his beloved nephew and haunted by his misfortune. His physical state was more than deplorable; at night he suffered from insomnia and the gray sad mornings brought him no joy in the silent world he lived. His situation was worse by the day.
     Just before his death he received a large amount of money from the London Philharmonic Society at the intervention of his student Moscheles. Schindler wrote that "Upon receiving this money, Beethoven could buy his favorite food and a comfortable armchair. Until then, he would deny himself even basic things he needed so as not to touch the stock he wanted to leave as inheritance to his nephew Karl. Beethoven was very happy upon receiving this gift and he still hoped he could somehow return the favor." In his last letter to Moscheles from March 18th (a week before his death) he pledged to offer the Philharmonic Society a new symphony.

Beethoven's Last Days. The 1815-1827 Period.

The Last Day

News also arrived from the shores of the Rhine: editor Schott sent him from Manz a case of wine. But, Beethoven’s condition was so bad at this point that he barely took a sip of that wine.
     On March 24th Beethoven signed his last will and testament, leaving everything he had to his nephew Karl. On the 26th, Breuning and Schindler went to see about a burial place at the cemetery, leaving Hutenbrenner alone with the now dying Beethoven.
     Here is how Romain Rolland describes Beethoven’s final day: "That day was tragic. There were heavy clouds in the sky… around 4 or 5 in the afternoon the murky clouds cast darkness in the entire room. Suddenly a terrible storm started, with blizzard and snow… thunder made the room shudder, illuminating it with the cursed reflection of lightning on snow. Beethoven opened his eyes and with a threatening gesture raised his right arm towards the sky with his fist clenched. The expression of his face was horrifying. His hand fell to the ground. His eyes closed. Beethoven was no more."

The Funerals

     The funeral took place on March 29th. The building’s huge yard, which had numerous tenants and which was also known as “the black Spaniard’s house”, was full of people. It was a sunny spring day that would become a sad part of history. Beetoven's casket was followed by twenty thousand people, almost the tenth part of Vienna’s entire population at that time. All schools were closed in sign of mourning. At Wahring cemetery, actor Anschutz, who had personally knew the composer, gave an open-hearted speech, edited by poet Grillparzer: " He was an artist and a man, a man in the highest sense of the word. He was a loner, never finding a life partner to his stature. But his heart was up to the very end close to the whole of humanity. That is how he was, how he died and how he will always remain for eternity. Leave discontent behind and shroud yourselves in sublime feelings, all you who find yourselves standing here before the tomb of a man about whom we can say, as of no other man before him: he accomplished great deeds, he knew no foulness. Go home not sad, but full of peace. Take a small flower from his grave, in the memory of the man he was and the great things he accomplished. And in the future, when you will be overwhelmed by the power of his creation, call back in your mind the image of today… "Beethoven's funerals.     At the graveyard, speeches were forbidden by the authorities. Thousands of people sorrowfully watched the simple casket be lowered in the ground.The life of the great composer had just ended. The history of Beethoven had just began.
     On April 3rd, Mozart’s Requiem was performed in one of Vienna’s churches in the memory of the deceased.

The Belongings

In the summer of the same year, Beethoven’s belongings, among which there were also his manuscripts, were sold at auction. This auction was held in August when the composer’s admirers were out of Vienna. The manuscripts were in their most part acquired by two editors Hasslinger and Artaria, who got them practically for free. Hence the manuscript of Symphony V was sold for only 6 florins.
     The fate of Beethoven’s manuscripts is truly sad. After Stephan Vreuning’s death, six weeks after Beethoven’s own death, Schindler alone was left to establish the true value of the composer’s remaining documents. But he had failed to keep Beethoven’s house sealed after his death. For several months, the late composer’s house could be visited by practically anybody: his manuscripts were either jumbled or stolen; the composer’s patrimony was not even inventoried. A great deal of documents was lost due to the negligence of his nephew Karl and his family and their complete disregard for Beethoven’s manuscripts. Schindler himself destroyed a great deal of the remaining conversational notebooks.The lost documents could have cast some light into the composer’s life and work 

The Revolutionary Composer

And so we part from one of mankind’s greatest artists. The noble eminence of the revolutionary composer was for many decades a paradigm of heroic life, pledged to artistic truth and pure passion. His works are now a part of music history. Beethoven’s sublime distinction is to this very day an example for all artists.

Chronological list of events in Beethoven's Life.

1770, December 16th- Ludwig van Beethoven is born in Bonn. He was the son of Johann van Beethoven, tenor and violinist at the court of the Elector Prince of Cologne.
1778, March 26th- Has his first public concert.
1780- Becomes Neefe’s student.
1783- Successfully replaces Neefe at the court. He also, publishes a sonata, 2 pieces of the Bossles anthology, a fugue and a rondo.
1784- composes a rondo and a piano concerto
1785-composes 3 quartets.
1787,March- leaves Bonn. On the 7th of April arrives in Vienna and meets Mozart.
       July 17th-returns to Bonn. His mother dies.
1789, May 14th- Enrolls at the Bonn University.
1790- Composes 2 cantatas: one when Joseph the 2nd dies and when Leopold the 2nd is made emperor. He also, composes a bale.
1791-Writes a fragment of a violin concerto. On December 5th Mozart dies
1792-Composes a string trio. Around the 2nd or 3rd of November Beethoven leaves for Vienna. He arrives there on the 10th of November. On the 18th of December his father dies.
1793- Becomes Haydn’s pupil
1794- The first symptoms of the deafness appear. Composes a trio for piano, Op.1. On the 29th of March, he holds his first concerto at The Burgtheater.
1796- February- June- goes to Nuremberg, Prague, Dresden and Berlin, where he composes the Sonata for Violoncello Op.5. He also composes the sonata for Piano Op.2.
1797-composes the Piano Sonata No.4 Op. 7
1798- Composes the Piano Sonata Op. 10 and the Violin Sonata Op.12. Neefe dies.
1799-composes Symphony No.1 and the Patetica Sonata Op. 14 and Op. 49/1
1800- Composes the String Quartet Op. 18, the Septet Op.20, the Piano Concerto Op. 37 and the Prometheus Ballet.
1801- Composes The Spring Sonata Op. 24 and the Piano Sonata Op.28. Giulietta Guicciardi becomes his pupil.
1802- 6th and 10th of October- writes the Heiligenstadt Testament. Composes the variations for Eroica, the Op. 26 and 27 sonatas and the Symphony No.2
1803- Composes the 3rd Piano Concerto Op. 37, the Kreutzer Sonata and Christus am Olberge. Works on the Eroica Symphony.

Chronological list of events in Beethoven's Life.

1804- Composes The Waldstein Sonata Op. 53 and the Appasionata Op. 57
1805, April 7th – The first audition of Eroica. Composes the 4th Piano Concerto Op.58
          November 20th – composes The First and Second Leonora Overtures.
1806- Composes the 3rd Leonora Overture, the 4th Symphony Op. 60, the Violin Concerto and the Razumovski quartet.
1807- The first audition of the 4th symphony and of the Piano Concerto No.4. Composes the 5th Symphony Op.67
1808- composes the Choral Piano and Orchestra Fantasia Op. 80
1809 May 11th- The Vienna Siege. He finishes the 5th Piano Concerto Op.73, the Op. 74 Quartet and the Piano Sonatas Op.78, 79 si 81.
1810 May- Meets Bettina Brentano. Composes the music for Goethe’s Egmont, the Op. 95 quartet. The first audition of the Piano Concerto Op. 73 in Leipzig
1812, February 12th- The first audition of the 5th Piano Concerto. Meets Goethe. Finishes the 7th and 8th Symphonies in September.
1813, December 8th – The first audition of the 7th Symphony.
1814, November 29th – Composes the Triple Concerto Op. 56 and the Piano Sonata Op. 90.
1815- Composes the Scottish Songs Op. 108.
1816- Composes the piano sonata Op. 101
1817- The first lines of the 9th Symphony.
1818- Composes the HammerKlavier Sonata
1820- Composes the Op.109 Sonata.
1822- Composes the Piano Sonatas Op.110 and 111. Finishes the Missa Solemnis and composes the Die Weihe des Hauses Overture, Op. 124.
1823- Finishes the 9th Symphony.Composes the Op. 120 variations and the Diabelli variations.
         February 8th – Letter to Goethe.
         March 19th- First audition of Missa Solemnis
1825- Composes the Op. 127 130 and 132 quartets.1826-Composes the Op. 131 and 135 quartets. In December falls ill with pneumonia.
1827- January 3rd – Makes his Will
         March 26th, 17:45- Ludwig van Beethoven dies.

eethoven's Heiligenstadt Testament

The Origin of the Testament

This testament like document was found in Beethoven’s room after his death. It was written in October 1802, in Heiligenstadt, a Vienna suburb where Beethoven stayed for a half year (spring-autumn 1802), at the indications of his doctor. The testament was addressed to his brothers Karl and Johann (even though, strangely enough, the name Johann didn’t appear on the testament, being replaced by a blank space) with the mention ‘to be read and executed after my death”.
     Heiligenstadt was a small village in Doebling county, north of Vienna, not far from the Danube, under the hills of Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg, where Beethoven loved to take long strolls in the surrounding forests. Nature was very appealing to Beethoven as he could escape from the agitation of the city and relax in the peaceful atmosphere of the countryside.

The Tourment

The testament was unknown to anyone but Beethoven, during his life and is not, as many considered, the last letter of a man dieing or, even worse, trying to commit suicide. By reading the testament, we can notice how Beethoven rejects suicide as an option for a man of art such as himself. His written testimonial also reveals the fact that there have been six years since he had first experienced the hearing problems that compelled him to living a lonely, solitary life as far away from people as possible. The house in Heiligenstadt, in which Beethoven wrote his testament     “But, think that for six years now I have been hopelessly afflicted, made worse by senseless physicians, from year to year deceived with hopes of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible).”
     The year 1802 marked the culminating point of Beethoven’s crisis. He was in love with Giullieta Guicciardi, and felt that was loved back, but at the end of the year, their relation cools off which made Beethoven enter a deep depressive state.
     On October 10th, the composer ads a post-scriptum in which he manifests his disbelief in the chances of the improvement of his condition. However, Beethoven’s strong character overcomes this desperate state of mind and little after the finalization of the Heiligenstadt Testament, Beethoven starts to work on the Symphony No. 3, Eroica.

The Heiligenstadt Testament (translation)

For my brothers Carl and [Johann] Beethoven
Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me? You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you. From childhood on, me heart and soul have been full of the tender feeling of goodwill, and I was ever inclined to accomplish great things. But, think that for six years now I have been hopelessly afflicted, made worse by senseless physicians, from year to year deceived with hopes of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible). Though born with a fiery, active temperament, even susceptible to the diversions of society, I was soon compelled to withdraw myself, to live life alone. If at times I tried to forget all this, oh how harshly I was I flung back by the doubly sad experience of my bad hearing. Yet it was impossible for me to say to people, "Speak louder, shout, for I am deaf." Ah, how could I possibly admit an infirmity in the one sense which ought to be more perfect in me than others, a sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection, a perfection such as few in my profession enjoy or ever have enjoyed.--Oh I cannot do it; therefore forgive me when you see me draw back when I would have gladly mingled with you.
     My misfortune is doubly painful to me because I am bound to be misunderstood; for me there can be no relaxation with my fellow men, no refined conversations, no mutual exchange of ideas. I must live almost alone, like one who has been banished; I can mix with society only as much as true necessity demands. If I approach near to people a hot terror seizes upon me, and I fear being exposed to the danger that my condition might be noticed. Thus it has been during the last six months which I have spent in the country. By ordering me to spare my hearing as much as possible, my intelligent doctor almost fell in with my own present frame of mind, though sometimes I ran counter to it by yielding to my desire for companionship. But what a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone heard a shepherd singing and again I heard nothing. Such incidents drove me almost to despair; a little more of that and I would have ended me life -- it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me. So I endured this wretched existence -- truly wretched for so susceptible a body, which can be thrown by a sudden change from the best condition to the very worst. -- Patience, they say, is what I must now choose for my guide, and I have done so -- I hope my determination will remain firm to endure until it pleases the inexorable Parcae to break the thread. Perhaps I shall get better, perhaps not; I am ready. -- Forced to become a philosopher already in my twenty-eighth year, oh it is not easy, and for the artist much more difficult than for anyone else. 'Divine one, thou seest me inmost soul thou knowest that therein dwells the love of mankind and the desire to do good'. Oh fellow men, when at some point you read this, consider then that you have done me an injustice; someone who has had misfortune man console himself to find a similar case to his, who despite all the limitations of Nature nevertheless did everything within his powers to become accepted among worthy artists and men. 'You, my brothers Carl and [Johann], as soon as I am dead, if Dr. Schmidt is still alive, ask him in my name to describe my malady, and attach this written documentation to his account of my illness so that so far as it possible at least the world may become reconciled to me after my death".
      At the same time, I declare you two to be the heirs to my small fortune (if so it can be called); divide it fairly; bear with and help each other. What injury you have done me you know was long ago forgiven. To you, brother Carl, I give special thanks for the attachment you have shown me of late. It is my wish that you may have a better and freer life than I have had. Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience; this was what upheld me in time of misery. Thanks to it and to my art, I did not end my life by suicide -- Farewell and love each other -- I thank all my friends, particularly Prince Lichnowsky's and Professor Schmidt -- I would like the instruments from Prince L. to be preserved by one of you, but not to be the cause of strife between you, and as soon as they can serve you a better purpose, then sell them. How happy I shall be if can still be helpful to you in my grave -- so be it. -- With joy I hasten to meed death. -- If it comes before I have had the chance to develop all my artistic capacities, it will still be coming too soon despite my harsh fate, and I should probably wish it later -- yet even so I should be happy, for would it not free me from a state of endless suffering? -- Come when thou wilt, I shall meed thee bravely. -- Farewell and do not wholly forget me when I am dead; I deserve this from you, for during my lifetime I was thinking of you often and of ways to make you happy -- please be so --
Ludwig van Beethoven
October 6th, 1802

Title Origins of the name & van Beethoven’s Family
Where does the name van Beethoven come from?
Beeth means 'beetroot' and Hoven is the plural of 'Hof', meaning 'farm'. Beethoven is therefore 'beetroot farms'.
There is a village named Betthoven in the province of Liège.
Early Beethoven History
In the 15th century, there were Beethoven’s at Limbourg and at Liège.
In the 16th, in many of the Brabant villages: Leefdael, Rotselaer, Bertem, Haecht, Neder Ockerzeel...
Then these families moved to towns: Malines, Louvain, Anvers.
It was at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries that Corneille and his sister Maria arrived at Malines. He was originally from Bertem, his father from Boortmeerbeek and his ancestors from Kampenhout.
Title Cornelius (Corneille) van Beethoven Bio
Malines...Malines...The first mention of Cornelius, or Corneille, in the registers of Malines dates from August 30, 1671, on the occasion of the marriage of his sister Marie. He lived at 7 rue des Pierres, in a house called Little Windmill.
He was probably a carpenter or joiner.
Corneille married Catherine van LEEMPOEL at Malines on February 12, 1673.
Corneille van Beethoven was buried in the parish of Notre Dame on March 29, 1716. He was given a middle class funeral and his courtège was escorted down la rue des Pierres by the carpenters’ guild.
Signature of Corneille van Beethoven - 1700...
TitleMichael (Michel) van Beethoven Bio
Malines...Michel was born on February 15, 1684, and his godmother was Elisabeth van Leempoel. He lived in the house in rue des Pierres.
In 1700, he was apprentice baker, and became Head Baker on October 5, 1707.
He married Maria Ludovica STUYCKERS on October 8, 1707. They moved into a house called The Speckled Bullok. They left in 1711 to live in the Rue des pierres after the death of his father.
Michel was therefore a baker, but Beethoven history shows he equally participated in the buying and selling of paintings. Perhaps he could have been a bric-a-brac trader? Around 1720, he worked in the Malines lace trade, particularly reputable for his luxurious items. It would seem that his trade thrived because, in 1727, the Beethoven couple possessed four houses in the rue des Juifs, plus other residences, which each had inherited from their parents.
Bonn...Despite all, the family took out several loans, the assets of their houses being hypothetical. Michel was often away, perhaps for his work? This was also a difficult period for trade in general. In any case, around 1740 and overall in 1741, the sums demanded of him were exorbitant.
He therefore left Malines probably in March 1741, for Bonn where two of his sons lived. His creditors could not follow him that far... He owed them about 10.000 florins. To put this in perspective, at this time the rent per year for a respectable house was around 50 florins!
Signature of Michael van Beethoven and Maria Stuyckers - 1741...
TitleLudwig (Louis) van Beethoven Bio
Louis was born on January 5, 1712 at Malines. Beethoven’s family included his godfather, Louis Stuyckers, his maternal grandfather, and his godmother Elisabeth van Leempoel, his great aunt.
He became a choirboy and then entered the choral school of Saint-Rombaut on December 10, 1717. He was taught by Charles Major, an excellent musician, a demanding teacher and a scholar (at his death he possessed 9 430 works!). After singing, Louis probably learn to play the organ, taught by the organist Antoine Colfs. He showed a strong disposition for music, and indeed his family and he himself thought it would become his profession.
However, at Malines, there were few possibilities to make it in life with music. However, the young Louis applied for a job as tenor to the church college of Saint-Pierre, at Louvain, where there was a spare place for a limited period. Not only was he accepted, but the master of the chapel, a certain Louis Colfs (it is not unlikely that he was of the same family as the organist at Malines) proposed to place him as conductor. His knowledge of music and his acquaintances therefore became particularly exceptional. His candidature finished on November 9, 1731.Löwen - Louvain...
In February 1732, Louis left Louvain for Saint-Lambert Cathedral, at Liège, where he sang bass from September 1732 until he departed for Bonn, in March 1733.Liège...
The Elector Prince of Cologne (Köln), whose court was at Bonn, was archbishop of Cologne but also bishop of Liège. It is therefore probable that he viewed Louis' qualities as valuable, and that this was what led to him having the chance to sing for the court chapel at Bonn. There he refound a fellow countryman with whom he had sung at Liège: van den Aeden.
Beethoven history shows that Louis married soon after his arrival in Bonn, to Marie-Joseph POLL, on September 17, 1733. Their witnesses were musicians: The organist Gilles van den Aeden and Jean-Paul Riechler.
Despite this post, he took up wine trading to increase his revenues.
He became Kapellmeister by decree on July 16, 1761. He wrote numerous works for theatre and opera.
Louis died on December 24, 1773. He had lived at Bonn for 40 years.
Corneille, Louis's brother was a candle merchant and wax-worker at Bonn where he established himself around 1731. He was the official supplier to the court. He married Hélène de la PORTE on February 20, 1734. His name was inscribed on the list of the bourgeois at Bonn on January 17, 1738. He died in 1764, and his wife in 1765.
Signature of Ludwig van Beethoven - 1768...
TitleJohann (Jean) van Beethoven Bio
Bonn...Johann was born in March 1740 at Bonn, and was probably baptized at the court chapel at Bonn. He was to be the father of Beethoven the composer.
As a youngster, he followed lessons at the Jesuite College. Then he became treble at the court chapel, at the age of twelve. Following this, Johann became musician at the court.
He married Maria Magdalena KEVERICH on November 12, 1767 at the church of Saint Rémy at Bonn against the wishes of his father. The couple moved into 515 Bonngasse.
Johann gave music lessons, usually teaching singing and violin. But drink was the first passion and the first poison of the musician.
By 1784, Beethoven history reveals that his voice was completely ruined. He died miserably on December 18, 1792.
Signature of Johann van Beethoven - 1785...
Titlevan Beethoven’s Family Migration
The Beethoven family, from Malines to Bonn...

Beethoven's Immortal Beloved Letters

The Origin of the Letters

In the summer of 1812, advised by his physician, Beethoven goes to the Czech resort, Teplitz. Even though the summer spent here didn’t have any positive influences on his state of health, it was very fruitful in memorable and interesting encounters. One of those encounters was the one between Beethoven and German poet Johann von Goethe. But the summer of 1812 is also important because it was the time when Beethoven wrote a set of mysterious letters that created numerous commentaries and assumptions among Beethoven scholars. The letters are known as “The Immortal Beloved Letters”
     While there are no certainties regarding the subject, there are a number of preferred candidates for the Immortal Beloved title.These are Giulieta Guicciardi, Thereza von Brunswick, Amalia Seebald and Antonie Brentano. All of these women are known to have been the object of Beethoven’s affection at one time or another. However, recent research has lead to the conclusion that the immortal beloved is almost certaintly the last of the candidates presented above, Antonie Brentano.
     The letters were found in his effects after his death.

The Letters

July 6, in the morning
      My angel, my all, my very self - Only a few words today and at that with pencil (with yours) - Not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon - what a useless waste of time - Why this deep sorrow when necessity speaks - can our love endure except through sacrifices, through not demanding everything from one another; can you change the fact that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine - Oh God, look out into the beauties of nature and comfort your heart with that which must be - Love demands everything and that very justly - thus it is to me with you, and to your with me. But you forget so easily that I must live for me and for you; if we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I - My journey was a fearful one; I did not reach here until 4 o'clock yesterday morning. Lacking horses the post-coach chose another route, but what an awful one; at the stage before the last I was warned not to travel at night; I was made fearful of a forest, but that only made me the more eager - and I was wrong. The coach must needs break down on the wretched road, a bottomless mud road. Without such postilions as I had with me I should have remained stuck in the road. Esterhazy, traveling the usual road here, had the same fate with eight horses that I had with four - Yet I got some pleasure out of it, as I always do when I successfully overcome difficulties - Now a quick change to things internal from things external. We shall surely see each other soon; moreover, today I cannot share with you the thoughts I have had during these last few days touching my own life - If our hearts were always close together, I would have none of these. My heart is full of so many things to say to you - ah - there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all - Cheer up - remain my true, my only treasure, my all as I am yours. The gods must send us the rest, what for us must and shall be -
Your faithful LUDWIG
Evening, Monday, July 6
      You are suffering, my dearest creature - only now have I learned that letters must be posted very early in the morning on Mondays to Thursdays - the only days on which the mail-coach goes from here to K. - You are suffering - Ah, wherever I am, there you are also - I will arrange it with you and me that I can live with you. What a life!!! thus!!! without you - pursued by the goodness of mankind hither and thither - which I as little want to deserve as I deserve it - Humility of man towards man - it pains me - and when I consider myself in relation to the universe, what am I and what is He - whom we call the greatest - and yet - herein lies the divine in man - I weep when I reflect that you will probably not receive the first report from me until Saturday - Much as you love me - I love you more - But do not ever conceal yourself from me - good night - As I am taking the baths I must go to bed - Oh God - so near! so far! Is not our love truly a heavenly structure, and also as firm as the vault of heaven?
Good morning, on July 7
      Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us - I can live only wholly with you or not at all - Yes, I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul enwrapped in you into the land of spirits - Yes, unhappily it must be so - You will be the more contained since you know my fidelity to you. No one else can ever possess my heart - never - never - Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves. And yet my life in V is now a wretched life - Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men - At my age I nedd a steady, quiet life - can that be so in our connection? My angel, I have just been told that the mailcoach goes every day - therefore I must close at once so that you may receive the letter at once - Be calm, only by a clam consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together - Be calm - love me - today - yesterday - what tearful longings for you - you - you - my life - my all - farewell. Oh continue to love me - never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.
ever thine
ever mine
ever ours


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