Ludwig van Beethoven
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1770-12-17
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Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven Biography (BBC)

The popular image of Beethoven as a morose individual who shunned society is only partly true. He did have a serious outlook on life, and in later years he had difficulty mixing with people because of his deafness, which emerged in his late twenties and gradually increased thereafter till his death. Yet he loved company, and had a ready wit. His letters contain many puns, and it was he who introduced the scherzo (literally, ‘joke’) into the symphony when he used one in his Symphony No. 2 instead of the customary minuet.

This Second Symphony already goes well beyond the models of Haydn and Mozart, the two chief influences on his style. Building on their example Beethoven continually strove to stretch the bounds of music to new limits, whether in his seven surviving concertos, 16 string quartets, 35 piano sonatas (including three very early ones) or other works.

Each of his nine symphonies (and an incipient tenth) is completely different from any previous one, and he showed similar originality in every major genre of the time, from his only opera Fidelio and his mighty Missa solemnis to his numerous settings of folk songs, which he treated in an entirely novel way. He achieved his goal through a combination of natural genius and sheer hard work: every one of his major compositions is the result of painstaking refinement, evident in the many thousands of pages of musical sketches that he wrote.

It is not always realised, however, that Beethoven was extraordinary in other ways too. Having no wife or family of his own, he spent enormous energy on helping his nephew, and he was deeply religious. Indeed his goodness and kindness were so evident to his contemporaries that at least three of them independently asserted that he was even greater as a human being than as a musician. Considering that many regard him as the greatest composer in history, such praise is astonishing.

Beethoven also responded strikingly to political upheavals – the French Revolution and the ensuing Napoleonic wars. Although no political activist, he made his hatred of tyranny very plain in works such as Fidelio and his music for Goethe’s play Egmont.

Yet it is the quality of his music that has ensured his lasting reputation. Although its novelty initially puzzled some of his contemporaries, repeated hearings and study have shown that it is based on firm foundations. Its combination of beauty and unpredictability, extreme emotional depth and intellectual rigour, across so many genres, is unsurpassed and probably always will be.

Profile © Barry Cooper

Ludwig van Beethoven Biography (Wikipedia)

Ludwig van Beethoven (,;; baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa solemnis and an opera, Fidelio.

Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven displayed his musical talents at an early age and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and by composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe. At the age of 21 he moved to Vienna, where he began studying composition with Joseph Haydn, and gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. He lived in Vienna until his death. By his late 20s his hearing began to deteriorate, and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf. In 1811 he gave up conducting and performing in public but continued to compose; many of his most admired works come from these last 15 years of his life.

This entry is from Wikipedia, the user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors and is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. If you find the biography content factually incorrect or highly offensive you can edit this article at Wikipedia. Find out more about our use of this data.

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Ludwig van Beethoven Performances

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Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata for piano no. 7 (Op.10 No.3) in D major
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Sonata for piano no. 7 (Op.10 No.3) in D major
Ludwig van Beethoven
15 Variations and a fugue on a theme from Prometheus in E flat major, Op.35
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15 Variations and a fugue on a theme from Prometheus in E flat major, Op.35
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata for piano no.21 (Op.53) in C major "Waldstein"; 1st mvt; Allegro con brio
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Sonata for piano no.21 (Op.53) in C major "Waldstein"; 1st mvt; Allegro con brio
Ludwig van Beethoven
Quartet in C sharp minor Op.131 for strings
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Quartet in C sharp minor Op.131 for strings
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata for piano no.26 (Op.81a) in E flat major "Les Adieux",
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Sonata for piano no.26 (Op.81a) in E flat major "Les Adieux",
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.10 No.1
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Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.10 No.1
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No.7 in A major (Op.92)
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Symphony No.7 in A major (Op.92)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Romance in G (Op. 40) arr. for viola and piano
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Romance in G (Op. 40) arr. for viola and piano
Ludwig van Beethoven
1st Quartet, Op.18, 1st mvt
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1st Quartet, Op.18, 1st mvt
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata in G major Op.30`3 for violin and piano
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Sonata in G major Op.30`3 for violin and piano
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet in E minor "Rasumovsky" Op.59 No.2
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String Quartet in E minor "Rasumovsky" Op.59 No.2
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet in A major Op.18 No.5
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String Quartet in A major Op.18 No.5
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata for piano no. 9 (Op.14`1) in E major, [complete]
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Sonata for piano no. 9 (Op.14`1) in E major, [complete]
Ludwig van Beethoven
IV. Presto (Piano Trio No.1 in E flat major, Op.1 No.1)
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IV. Presto (Piano Trio No.1 in E flat major, Op.1 No.1)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata no. 18 in E flat major Op.31`3 for piano
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Sonata no. 18 in E flat major Op.31`3 for piano
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata for piano in C minor (Op.10 No.1)
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Sonata for piano in C minor (Op.10 No.1)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata in G major, Op.49/2
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Piano Sonata in G major, Op.49/2
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