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Music Encyclopedia

Ludwig Van Beethoven ( 1770 - 1827 )

German composer whose genealogy was of Flemish origin.
He was born in Bonn on December 16, 1770.

Ludwigs granfather of the same name came to Bonn as a singer originally. His grandfather later became master of the chapel of the archbishop of Cologne.
Johann, the father was involved in the same court as a singer.

As a youngster, Ludwig received training from his father, and C.G. Neefe, who was the organist and master of the chapel.
Neefe gave Ludwig the responsibility of playing the harpsichord at the chapel at age twelve.

While living in Vienna in his teens, Beethoven had received a few lessons from Hadyn, but more from Salieri, the Italian composer.

In residence in Vienna, Ludwig was more of a free lance composer and made his living as such. Although at times he was helped out with stipends from the aristocratic noblemen.
Beethoven astounded those who attended his performances as a pianist. He was considered one who captured the rich variety of tones, colors and dynamics at the piano that others were incapable of.
His powerful presentations turned heads in that day. His ability to improvise was considered amazing.

He did not reach those reactions as a conductor, due to his increasing tendancy to deafness.

Beethovens process as a composer was ongoing. Early in his life his style followed that of his peers.
Later as he improved his craft he developed an original and powerful style full of all the emotions and pathos we humans encounter in life.
This is why his music is gripping, riveting and powerful in some of his songs and melancholy in others.
Other composers in that time did not reach deep inside their minds as he did, he revealed his dark sides and shining brillance too.

He was truly an innovator and a risk taker, willing to experiment and challenge the structures of music of that time.

Beethovens works as a rule were developed on a larger scale.
As an example, In his sonatas, he would purposely emphasize the contrast of character between the 1st and 2nd subjects and brought in at times a third subject.
Beethoven was essentially an instrumental composer, although his vocal works include an opera of great depth and power, Leonore, 1805later renamed Fidelio
He also did a piece which was a deeply moving one entitled Missa Solemnis

Beethoven wrote masterpieces in all the following genres:

The Pastoral in F major and the Choral in D minor were a few of his symphonies.
Piano Concertos such as the Pathetique in C minor or Moonlight Sonata remain the most performed works to this day.

Some of the Chamber works he wrote were, Opus 31, the Great Fugue and Opus 110.

Some choral works were Christ on the Mount of Olives, Victory of the Cross and The Great Moment

A few examples of his Secular works were, Adelaide, Wonne der Wehmut and the Cry of the Quail.

Those who study the piano seriously will have found that the pianists mainstay are the 32 Sonatas.
These works make a well rounded piano performer, covering and capturing every aspect of techique and variations of tones and colors.

A complete edition of Beethovens works were originally published in 1864 by Breitkopf and Hartel. Another was done in America in 1949.
If one wishes to search out unedited versions, seek out your public library or visit your music book store in your city.