Ludwig Van Beethoven
1770 - 1827
Ludwig Van Beethoven (pronounced bay-toe-ven) is one of the most famous and influential composers of all time. He lived and composed during both the Classical and Romantic Periods and changed the way the world thought about music.
Beethoven was born in 1770 in the city of Bonn in Germany. His father and his grandfather were both musicians. Beethoven showed his musical talent at a young age and his father was his first teacher. His father hoped that Ludwig would become a famous child performer like Mozart and made him work very hard. Beethoven said that sometimes his father would come home from the pub late at night and pull him out of bed and make him practice. Mr. Beethoven was not a kind teacher and he was not very nice to Ludwig but Ludwig's talent was so great that he loved music anyway and started performing in public when he was only eight years old.
By the time he was twelve, Beethoven was already composing and he was being taught by one of the best teachers in Bonn, Christian Gottlob Neefe. He learned to play piano, organ and violin.
First Visit to Vienna
When he was seventeen, Beethoven went to Vienna for the first time. It was 1786 and Vienna was the musical center of the world. Beethoven got to Vienna with the hopes of meeting Mozart. It's not clear if they ever met because soon after he arrived in Vienna, Beethoven got a letter telling him to come home because his mother was dying. Beethoven left Vienna and hurried back to Bonn to look after his mother. After she died, Beethoven had to take over being in charge of his family because his father was not able to do it. Beethoven stayed in Bonn, working in an orchestra there until 1792.
In 1792 Beethoven traveled to Vienna again and he stayed there for the rest of his life. Beethoven took lessons with Franz Joseph Haydn and with a less famous teacher named Albrechtsberger .
Beethoven wanted to become famous as a pianist and composer and he started to perform in private houses and get his compositions published.
Beethoven was starting to become famous and he travelled to places like Prague to perform his music. In 1800 he gave his first public concert with his own music and he conducted his First Symphony. Beethoven was becoming famous as a composer and different publishers wanted him to let them publish his new works. In 1801 Beethoven wrote his famous piano Sonata No. 14, nicknamed, "Moonlight". He wrote it for his girlfriend, Giulietta Guicciardi, but her parents refused to let her marry him. Beethoven never found the right woman to marry and this was something that made him sad his entire life.
In a letter dated June 29, 1801 Beethoven told a friend in Bonn about a terrible secret he had for some time. He knew that he was becoming deaf. Beethoven was becoming one of the most famous composers of all time but he was finding it hard to hear. He often heard a high-pitched ringing sound in his ears and found it difficult to hear what people were saying to him.
Beethoven stopped giving piano concerts but continued composing. Beethoven had always had a difficult personality but as he became deaf he also became more difficult. He was very exact about everything - even how his coffee was prepared - and was known for his wild moods. He liked to take long walks in the country where he would get inspiration for his music.
Beethoven's best known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas and 16 string quartets. He also composed other chamber music, choral works, songs and one opera.
Beethoven's nine symphonies changed the way symphonies were composed forever. In his ninth symphony he included a chorus which had never been done before.
Beethoven died in 1827 at the age of 56. About 20,000 people lined the streets for his funeral.