70 Facts About Beethoven


Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist.

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Beethoven remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music; his works rank amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire and span the transition from the Classical period to the Romantic era in classical music.

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Beethoven's career has conventionally been divided into early, middle, and late periods.

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Beethoven was initially harshly and intensively taught by his father Johann van Beethoven.

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Beethoven was later taught by the composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe, under whose tutelage he published his first work, a set of keyboard variations, in 1783.

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Beethoven then gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist, and he was patronized by Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky for compositions, which resulted in his three Opus 1 piano trios in 1795.

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Beethoven was almost completely deaf by 1814, and he then gave up performing and appearing in public.

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Beethoven composed Missa solemnis between 1819 and 1823 and his final Symphony, No 9, one of the first examples of a choral symphony, between 1822 and 1824.

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Beethoven was the grandson of Ludwig van Beethoven, a musician from the town of Mechelen in the Austrian Duchy of Brabant who had moved to Bonn at the age of 21.

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Beethoven was born of this marriage in Bonn, at what is the Beethoven House Museum, Bonnstrasse 20.

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Seven children born to Johann van Beethoven, only Ludwig, the second-born, and two younger brothers survived infancy.

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In 1780 or 1781, Beethoven began his studies with his most important teacher in Bonn, Christian Gottlob Neefe.

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Beethoven soon began working with Neefe as assistant organist, at first unpaid, and then as a paid employee of the court chapel.

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Beethoven gave some support to Beethoven, appointing him Court Organist and paying towards his visit to Vienna of 1792.

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Beethoven was introduced in these years to several people who became important in his life.

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Beethoven often visited the cultivated von Breuning family, at whose home he taught piano to some of the children, and where the widowed Frau von Breuning offered him a motherly friendship.

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Beethoven's mother died in 1787, shortly after Beethoven's first visit to Vienna, where he stayed for about two weeks and almost certainly met Mozart.

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In 1789 Beethoven's father was forcibly retired from the service of the Court and it was ordered that half of his father's pension be paid directly to Ludwig for support of the family.

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Beethoven contributed further to the family's income by teaching and by playing viola in the court orchestra.

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From 1790 to 1792, Beethoven composed several works showing a growing range and maturity.

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Beethoven was probably first introduced to Joseph Haydn in late 1790 when the latter was travelling to London and stopped in Bonn around Christmas time.

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Beethoven did not immediately set out to establish himself as a composer, but rather devoted himself to study and performance.

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Beethoven chose instead to remain in Vienna, continuing his instruction in counterpoint with Johann Albrechtsberger and other teachers.

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In 1799 Beethoven participated in a notorious piano 'duel' at the home of Baron Raimund Wetzlar against the virtuoso Joseph Wolfl; and in the following year he similarly triumphed against Daniel Steibelt at the salon of Count Moritz von Fries.

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Beethoven acceded to these requests, as he could not prevent publishers from hiring others to do similar arrangements of his works.

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Beethoven told the English pianist Charles Neate that he dated his hearing loss from a fit in 1798 induced by a quarrel with a singer.

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The letters to Wegeler and Amenda were not so despairing; in them Beethoven commented on his ongoing professional and financial success at this period, and his determination, as he expressed it to Wegeler, to "seize Fate by the throat; it shall certainly not crush me completely".

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Beethoven's hearing loss did not prevent him from composing music, but it made playing at concerts—an important source of income at this phase of his life—increasingly difficult.

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Beethoven never became totally deaf; in his final years he was still able to distinguish low tones and sudden loud sounds.

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Beethoven dedicated 14 compositions to Rudolf, including some of his major works such as the Archduke Trio Op.

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The Austrian currency destabilized and Lobkowitz went bankrupt in 1811 so that to benefit from the agreement Beethoven eventually had recourse to the law, which in 1815 brought him some recompense.

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Guicciardi, although she flirted with Beethoven, never had any serious interest in him and married Wenzel Robert von Gallenberg in November 1803.

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Beethoven began to visit her and commenced a passionate correspondence.

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Beethoven's is remembered as the recipient of the piano bagatelle Fur Elise.

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Antonie Brentano, ten years younger than Beethoven, was the wife of Franz Brentano, the half-brother of Bettina Brentano, who provided Beethoven's introduction to the family.

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Some speculate that Beethoven was the father of Antonie's son Karl Josef, though the two never met.

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In early 1813 Beethoven apparently went through a difficult emotional period, and his compositional output dropped.

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Beethoven had visited his brother Johann at the end of October 1812.

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Kaspar had been ill for some time; in 1813 Beethoven lent him 1500 florins, to procure the repayment of which he was ultimately led to complex legal measures.

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Beethoven had successfully applied to Kaspar to have himself named the sole guardian of the boy.

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Beethoven only regained custody after intensive legal struggles in 1820.

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Beethoven was finally motivated to begin significant composition again in June 1813, when news arrived of Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Vitoria by a coalition led by the Duke of Wellington.

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Between 1815 and 1819 Beethoven's output dropped again to a level unique in his mature life.

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Beethoven attributed part of this to a lengthy illness that he had for more than a year, starting in October 1816.

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Beethoven was not well enough to carry out a visit to London that year which had been proposed by the Philharmonic Society.

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Beethoven was spurred to outdo the competition and by mid-1819 had already completed 20 variations of what were to become the 33 Diabelli Variations op.

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In early 1822 Beethoven sought a reconciliation with his brother Johann, whose marriage in 1812 had met with his disapproval, and Johann now became a regular visitor and began to assist him in his business affairs, including him lending him money against ownership of some of his compositions.

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Beethoven sought some reconciliation with the mother of his nephew, including supporting her income, although this did not meet with the approval of the contrary Karl.

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Beethoven set the price at the high level of 50 ducats per quartet in a letter dictated to his nephew Karl, who was then living with him.

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Beethoven was later to claim that he had been a member of Beethoven's circle since 1814, but there is no evidence for this.

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Cooper suggests that "Beethoven greatly appreciated his assistance, but did not think much of him as a man".

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Beethoven was not however in a hurry to get it published or performed as he had formed a notion that he could profitably sell manuscripts of the work to various courts in Germany and Europe at 50 ducats each.

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Beethoven had become critical of the Viennese reception of his works.

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Beethoven, therefore, enquired about premiering the Missa and the Ninth Symphony in Berlin.

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Beethoven was won over, and the symphony was first performed, along with sections of the Missa solemnis, on 7 May 1824, to great acclaim at the Karntnertortheater.

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Beethoven stood by the conductor Michael Umlauf during the concert beating time, and because of his deafness was not even aware of the applause which followed until he was turned to witness it.

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Beethoven then turned to writing the string quartets for Galitzin, despite failing health.

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Beethoven's favourite was the last of this series, the quartet in C minor Op.

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Beethoven survived and after discharge from hospital went to recuperate in the village of Gneixendorf with Beethoven and his uncle Johann.

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Beethoven died on 26 March 1827 at the age of 56; only his friend Anselm Huttenbrenner and a "Frau van Beethoven" were present.

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Beethoven was buried in the Wahring cemetery, north-west of Vienna, after a requiem mass at the church of the Holy Trinity in Alserstrasse.

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Beethoven's remains were exhumed for study in 1863, and moved in 1888 to Vienna's Zentralfriedhof where they were reinterred in a grave adjacent to that of Schubert.

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Beethoven himself was not to give any of the Bonn works an opus number, save for those which he reworked for use later in his career, for example, some of the songs in his Op.

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Charles Rosen points out that Bonn was something of a backwater compared to Vienna; Beethoven was unlikely to be acquainted with the mature works of Haydn or Mozart, and Rosen opines that his early style was closer to that of Hummel or Muzio Clementi.

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Kernan suggests that at this stage Beethoven was not especially notable for his works in sonata style, but more for his vocal music; his move to Vienna in 1792 set him on the path to develop the music in the genres he became known for.

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Beethoven explored new directions and gradually expanded the scope and ambition of his work.

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Beethoven began a renewed study of older music, including works by Palestrina, Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Frideric Handel, whom Beethoven considered "the greatest composer who ever lived".

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Streicher left Stein's business to set up his own firm in 1803, and Beethoven continued to admire his products, writing to him in 1817 of his "special preference" for his pianos.

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Amongst the other pianos Beethoven possessed was an Erard piano given to him by the manufacturer in 1803.

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In 1825 Beethoven commissioned a piano from Conrad Graf, which was equipped with quadruple strings and a special resonator to make it audible to him, but which failed in this task.

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