29 April 2015

History Of Music: Ludwig van Beethoven

This is the 50th post in this blog. What would be more perfect subject for this post than one of the greatest names in the history of music? This is the first part of my History Of Music series, which I introduced in my previous post. And since I am excited about this brand new series, I needed a great start for it. I considered between two options for this post, but decided to go with Beethoven.

Because this is the first post of this series, it may not come out as good as I would hope, but I shall try my best. Like I said in the introduction post, I will keep these posts short in order to avoid boredom and dryness. Any input on this post is welcome! But now, let's start...

Wikipedia: Ludwig van Beethoven

Für Elise. Beethoven's Bagatelle no. 25 is one of his most famous compositions.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born late 1770 in the city of Bonn, which currently is part of Germany, near the Benelux borders. His parents were Johann van Beethoven and Maria Magdalena Keverich. His father and his paternal grandfather, Lodewijk van Beethoven, were both musicians too. Beethoven's birthplace at Bonngasse 20 has been turned into a museum / memorial site, which I would love to visit one day.

Beethoven's childhood was not a happy one. Another one of the world's most famous composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was Beethoven's contemporary. Mozart was a child prodigy and composing from a very young age. Johann van Beethoven was aware of Mozart's fame and he wanted to make his son, Ludwig, a child prodigy too.

Young Ludwig was very talented musically, so Johann's hopes were not build on a nothing. Johann made his son practice hours and hours per day. It has been said that young Beethoven was often seen by the keyboard in tears, since he was so tired from all the practicing, though it is also said that there is no actual evidence on this and it is just rumors. However it was, Beethoven practiced a lot and made his first public appearance at the age of seven.

Johann van Beethoven's ambition to make his son a child prodigy came out also in other a bit questionable ways. He in example lied about Beethoven's age so that it would look more amazing that such a young child could make such compositions. In my opinion it is already enough impressing that a child can compose so well, give or take couple years on his age.

Piano Sonata no. 14 is also known as Moonlight Sonata.

Beethoven went on to become a composer and eventually one of the greatest composers of all time. Though like with so many other artists, most of the appreciation for Beethoven came after his death. In his career Beethoven composed nine symphonies, five piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quarters and many other works. He is best known for his symphonies, including the most famous one, Symphony no. 5, whose beginning I bet everyone knows (it is the last song in this post). I tried to feature his most famous works in this post.

Beethoven lived in the eras of Classical and Romantic styles in music. His style was still different from the usual norms of Classical music. He made a lot changes and tried out different things. Many of his compositions have a structure that is harder to listen to. A lot of the changes he made are still in use nowdays, so his affect in the music history can be still heard in modern compositions.

Before Beethoven's time, the only way a composer could make a living was to fulfill orders from the rich. In the 1700s, with the rise of the bourgeoisie class, it started to become possible for a composer to work as he liked as a free composer, since music got more listeners and so more buyers. This allowed Beethoven's more uncommon style. He was actually the very first composer, who worked his entire career as a free composer.

One of the most notable works from Beethoven: Missa Solemnis. Note that it is over an hour long.

It seems that behind every great man or woman, there is a tragic story. Besides Beethoven's miserable childhood, he had many struggles throughout his life. Most notably he lost his hearing almost completely. This made him eventually stop performing and conducting, but he kept on composing. You seriously have to give credit to a composer who can make worldwide famous compositions even when he is practically deaf.

Ludwig van Beethoven is considered as the bridge between the styles of Classical and Romantic eras. His works are played all around the world even now almost 200 years after his death. Many of his compositions are famous even amongst those who do not care for classical music. Beethoven affected the Western music maybe more than any other composers ever and his incredible talent is undeniable.

Last but not least, here is the Symphony no. 5:

Composed between 1804 and 1808, Symphony no. 5 is likely Beethoven's best known composition.

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