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.
- Beethoven: Symphony No 9 in D minor, 'Choral' (4th movement – extr.)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02xlp0f.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02xlp0f.jpg2016-07-25T13:49:00.000ZWith Miah Persson (soprano), Anna Stéphany (mezzo-soprano), John Daszak (tenor), Christopher Purves (bass), and the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p042jymn
Beethoven: Symphony No 9 in D minor, 'Choral' (4th movement – extr.)
- Beethoven: Missa solemnis (Gloria)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02xy84q.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02xy84q.jpg2016-07-20T10:24:00.000ZGianandrea Noseda conducts the BBC Philharmonic in Beethoven's Missa solemnis (Gloria). Live from the Royal Albert Hall, London, for the BBC Proms 2016.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p04213x7
Beethoven: Missa solemnis (Gloria)
- "I've never forgotton where I was the first time I heard this performance"http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03yf97j.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03yf97j.jpg2016-06-15T13:34:00.000ZJames Rhodes on why he loves Glenn Gould's performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.1http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03yf98c
"I've never forgotton where I was the first time I heard this performance"
- A performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphonyhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wtx45.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wtx45.jpg2016-05-31T13:55:00.000ZJohn Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03wtytp
A performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
- Evidence of revolutionary idealshttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wts0s.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wts0s.jpg2016-05-31T13:27:00.000ZIan and John explore the evidence that Beethoven's revolutionary beliefs found their way into the first four notes of the Fifth Symphony.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03wtth9
Evidence of revolutionary ideals
- A revolutionary interpretation of Beethoven's Fifthhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wtqt4.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wtqt4.jpg2016-05-31T13:10:00.000ZIan Hislop wants to find out if there is any truth to new claims about the meaning behind the famous symphony. Was it really a declaration of the ideals of the French Revolution?http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03wtr9m
A revolutionary interpretation of Beethoven's Fifth
- Overcoming the familiarity of the Fifthhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wtjs7.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03wtjs7.jpg2016-05-31T12:04:00.000ZJohn and the orchestra discuss the task of bringing originality to the most famous piece of classical music ever written.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03wtn7x
Overcoming the familiarity of the Fifth
- Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major (extract)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ph4w6.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ph4w6.jpg2016-04-20T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Proms.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03ph661
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major (extract)
- Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F major (extract)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03np0bh.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03np0bh.jpg2016-04-20T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Proms.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03np1cv
Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F major (extract)
- Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, ‘Emperor’ (extract)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nxrd4.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nxrd4.jpg2016-04-19T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Proms.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03nxrsp
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, ‘Emperor’ (extract)
- Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major (extract)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03np8dr.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03np8dr.jpg2016-04-19T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Proms.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03npb0n
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major (extract)
- Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor (extract)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nv0jb.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nv0jb.jpg2016-04-18T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Promshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03nwsm2
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor (extract)
- Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (extract)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nt3wv.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nt3wv.jpg2016-04-17T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Promshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03nt3yq
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (extract)
- Beethoven: Piano concerto No. 4 in G major (extract)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ntgg5.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ntgg5.jpg2016-04-17T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Proms.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03ntkky
Beethoven: Piano concerto No. 4 in G major (extract)
- Beethoven: Missa solemnis (extract)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nsgc2.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nsgc2.jpg2016-04-17T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Promshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03nsj26
Beethoven: Missa solemnis (extract)
- Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.13 (Pathétique)http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nb0z7.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nb0z7.jpg2016-03-19T14:15:00.000ZSarah Walker surveys the available recordings of Beethoven's Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.13 (Pathétique).http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03nb104
Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.13 (Pathétique)
- Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minorhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03cy9l3.jpghttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03cy9l3.jpg2016-01-02T09:00:00.000ZNicholas Baragwanath recommends a recording of Beethoven's 5th Symphony.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03cy9m6
Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor
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