Ludwig van Beethoven Essay

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Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer who brought about gigantic alterations in the nature and techniques of music”an achievement matched by few other artists. He found music a rococo-dramatic art, the orchestra a relatively small ensemble, and the piano a newly established successor to the harpsichord. By his aggressive, iconoclastic, even egotistic nature, and by his huge ability to manipulate and balance musical ideas and forces, Beethoven marked his later creations with his own stormy, tender, lyrical, and intellectual character.

By employing text less music to communicate philosophical ideas and to serve as autobiography, he pushed music far along the road toward 19th century romanticism and bequeathed to his successors the portrait of the great creator as culture hero (Bekker, 2005). He expanded the size of the orchestra and the possible length of orchestral compositions, preparing the way for Schubert, Berlioz, Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler, Anton Bruckner, and Richard Strauss. He is considered one of the greatest composers of all time.

Beethoven has been called the Shakespeare of Music for the manner in which he combined mastery of technique with depth of feeling and variety of form. Beethovens composing was slow and painstaking. He had to revise, polish and work. His life was plagued by family problems and ill health. He was totally deaf in the last years of his life, yet this did not stop him from composing. Beethoven was a temperamental man and often quarreled with his associates. He had tempestuous love affairs but never married. He went far toward establishing the piano as the foremost musical instrument.

Not a great craftsman when handling the human voice, Beethoven excelled in all other branches of music. The taste of the 20th century inclines to call Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven the greatest of all musical creators (Bekker, 2005). Thesis Statement: This study scrutinizes the life of Ludwig van Beethoven and be aware of his unusual or significant contributions to music. II. Background A. Early Years Beethoven was born at Bonn, probably on December 16, 1770, and was baptized on December 17. Of Flemish-German descent, he was the second of seven children of Johann van Beethoven, who sang tenor in the chorus of the elector of Cologne.

Ludwigs mother was Maria Magdalena Laym. The boy demonstrated musical talent as early as his sixth year, and his father tried to develop him into a child like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. At 10, Ludwig was sent to study with Christian Gottlob Neefe, the electors court organist. Neefe nourished him on Johann Sebastian Bachs Well-Tempered Clavier and wrote in 1783: If he goes on as he has started, he will certainly become a second Mozart. Young Beethoven later studied under several court musicians, who helped him master the violin, organ, and piano.

In 1787 he went to Vienna and there met Mozart, who was impressed by his piano improvisations. Beethoven returned to Bonn when his mother became ill. After her death, his father became an alcoholic and Beethoven helped support his younger brothers. In the following years, Beethoven held several important music posts at the court and also gave private music lessons. In 1792 he moved to Vienna, probably at the request of Haydn, who was Beethovens teacher for a time, but the two composers did not get along well and Beethoven continued his studies with Johann Schenk and Antonio Salieri.

Beethoven began to play at private musical soirees given by the Viennese aristocracy and quickly won fame as a virtuoso pianist. He gave his first public concert in 1795, performing his Piano Concert No. 2 in B flat and soon became well known as a composer. Except for occasional trips, Beethoven spent the rest of his life in Vienna. There he enjoyed both artistic and social success, as noblemen became both his patrons and his friends. Beethoven first noticed a hearing loss in the late 1790s. As the condition grew worse he became irritable, suspicious, and quarrelsome.

He continued to compose, however, and wrote his final compositions, including the magnificent Ninth Symphony Choral, while totally deaf. Scholars disagree on the cause of his deafness. It may have resulted from a childhood illness, from syphilis, or from otosclerosis, a condition in which bony growths form between the inner ear and the middle ear (Grove, 2003). Beethovens music forms a transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in music. He is most famous for his symphonies, sonatas, concertos, and quartets but also composed songs, cantatas, masses, and incidental theater music.

Beethoven used the Classical forms but enlarged their formal structure and enriched their emotional content with a personal expressiveness (Grove, 2003). III. Discussion A. His contributions ¢ Middle Period Beethovens personal eccentricities, his proud boorishness, and even his lack of personal cleanliness were accepted as the marks of the genius he was. A short, muscular, stocky man, he had a bush of wild hair and fierce, piercing black eyes in a notably ruddy face. His upper-class friends suffered at his hands but stubbornly remained faithful to him.

They supported him by providing comfortable lodgings, by giving him money, and by patronizing his concerts and publications. By 1804, he was composing such of his great piano sonatas as the Waldstein and the Appassionata, and probably had embarked on his only opera, Fidelio (Newman, 2004). Meanwhile, by 1805, Beethoven had begun to sketch his Fifth (C Minor) Symphony, his Fourth (G Major) Piano Concerto, and the first of his Rasoumovsky string quartets. In 1806, in the midst of the Napoleonic disorders, he composed his only violin concerto, first heard on December 23 of that year.

While Beethoven worked on the concerto, his desk was littered with advanced sketches of his Fourth Fifth, and Sixth symphonies. The Fourth was first heard in the spring of 1807; the Fifth (C Minor) and Sixth (Pastoral, F Major) were played at a concert on December 22, 1808, which included half a dozen others of his works (the premieres of the Choral Fantasy and the Fourth Piano Concerto)(Grove, 2003). On completing his Third (Eroica) Symphony, in E Flat, in 1804, Beethoven had inscribed it to Napoleon, thinking of him as a democratic liberator; this inscription he later angrily struck out.

Nevertheless, he seriously considered, as late as 1808-1089, an offer from Jerome Bonaparte, king of Westphalis, to become his Kapellmeister at Kassel. Hearing of this, three of Beethovens Viennese patrons, including the young Archduke Rudolf, joined to offer him a yearly income, and he decided not to emigrate (Anderson, 2001). ¢ Last Works Between 1817 and 1823, Beethoven completed the last 5 of his 32 piano sonatas. In 1818, he began a mass intended for use at the installation of his friend Archduke Rudolf as archbishop of Olmutz (Olomouc).

He did not complete it until February 27, 1823; the Missa solemnis was first sung at a private performance in ST. Petersburg on April 6, 1824. Beethoven had planned a symphony in F minor. He worked at it desultorily in 1823, when he seriously set to work to complete it. He decided to make its last movement a choral setting of Friedrich von Schillers Ode to Joy and pronounced the Ninth Symphony complete on September 5, 1823. He had accepted 250 from the Philharmonic Society of London in return for a promise that it would receive his new symphony in manuscript.

But he had also promised the premiere to Berlin and had dedicated the symphony to the King of Prussia. When his Viennese patrons insisted that it be heard in Vienna first, he yielded, salving his conscience by sending the actual autograph score at London. The first hearing of the Ninth Symphony occurred in Vienna on May 7, 1824. When the audience broke into frantic applause, the deaf Beethoven was unaware of the enthusiasm until someone turned him around so that he could see the demonstration (Anderson, 2001). IV. Conclusion

As a conclusion, custom long has divided Beethovens numerous works into three periods. These inexact, overlapping categories represent actual changes in styles. The first period shows Beethoven as the direct heir and imitator of Haydn and Mozart. Opening about 1800, the second period, far more idiosyncratic, includes the majority of his most popular works: symphonies Nos. 2 to 8 inclusive, Fidelio, the last three piano concertos, the violin concerto, the Leonore, Egmont, and Coriolan overtures, the Rasoumovsky string quartets, other chamber music, and 14 of the piano sonatas.

The third of the Beethoven periods, one of distillation and summation, encompasses the Ninth Symphony, the five final string quartets, and the Missa solemnis (Anderson, 2001). Critics still discuss whether or not Beethovens deafness influenced the special character of his later works.

Reference: 1. Anderson, Emily. (2001). The Letters of Beethoven, 5 vols. Pp. 23-27. London and New York. 2. Bekker, Paul. (2005)Beethoven, tr. By M. M. Bozman, pp. 114-116, London. 3. Grove, George. (2003). The Life and Works of Beethoven, pp. 24-36, New York. 4. Newman, Romain. (2004). The Unconsciousness Beethoven, pp. 67-68, London and New York.

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