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


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Ludwig van Beethoven Tracks

Ludwig van Beethoven
Fidelio - Overture
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Fidelio - Overture

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Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata quasi una fantasia in C sharp minor Op.27`2 (Moonlight) for piano (Piano sonata no.14)
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Sonata quasi una fantasia in C sharp minor Op.27`2 (Moonlight) for piano (Piano sonata no.14)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Romance in G major for Violin and Orchestra Op 40
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Romance in G major for Violin and Orchestra Op 40
Ludwig van Beethoven
Rondo capriccio in G major, Op 129, 'Rage over a Lost Penny'
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Rondo capriccio in G major, Op 129, 'Rage over a Lost Penny'
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 0 in E-Flat Major, WoO 4: III. Rondo allegretto
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Piano Concerto No. 0 in E-Flat Major, WoO 4: III. Rondo allegretto
Ludwig van Beethoven
Fourteen variations in E flat for piano trio, Op 44
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Fourteen variations in E flat for piano trio, Op 44
Ludwig van Beethoven
Bagatelle in C major, Op.33 no.2
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Bagatelle in C major, Op.33 no.2
Ludwig van Beethoven
Romance No 1 in G
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Romance No 1 in G
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No 4 in G Major, Op. 58 (3rd mvt)
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Piano Concerto No 4 in G Major, Op. 58 (3rd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat major, Op 73, 'Emperor' (3rd mvt)
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Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat major, Op 73, 'Emperor' (3rd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37: III. Rondo. Allegro - Presto
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Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37: III. Rondo. Allegro - Presto
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano sonata no.24 in F sharp major, Op.78 (1st mvt)
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Piano sonata no.24 in F sharp major, Op.78 (1st mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata No.6 in F, Op.10 No.2: 2. Allegretto
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Piano Sonata No.6 in F, Op.10 No.2: 2. Allegretto
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No 4 in G major, Op 58 (2nd mvt)
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Piano Concerto No 4 in G major, Op 58 (2nd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No.7 in A Op.92 - 4th mvt: Allegro con brio
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Symphony No.7 in A Op.92 - 4th mvt: Allegro con brio
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata no.6 in F, Op.10`2
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Piano Sonata no.6 in F, Op.10`2
Ludwig van Beethoven
Quartet for strings (Op 131) in C sharp minor
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Quartet for strings (Op 131) in C sharp minor

Quartet for strings (Op 131) in C sharp minor

Performer
Mikkel Futtrup
Kirstine Futtrup
Magda Stevensson
Toke Moldrop
Ludwig van Beethoven
Bagatelle in A minor, WoO 59, 'Für Elise'
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Bagatelle in A minor, WoO 59, 'Für Elise'
Ludwig van Beethoven
March in C major for Military Band
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March in C major for Military Band
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
Symphony no. 9 in D minor Op.125 (Choral)
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Symphony no. 9 in D minor Op.125 (Choral)
Ludwig van Beethoven
33 Variations on a waltz by Diabelli in C major Op.120 for piano
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33 Variations on a waltz by Diabelli in C major Op.120 for piano
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata No. 9 in E Op. 14 No. 1 - 3rd Movement
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Sonata No. 9 in E Op. 14 No. 1 - 3rd Movement
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata No. 9 in E Op. 14 No. 1 - 2nd Movement
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Sonata No. 9 in E Op. 14 No. 1 - 2nd Movement
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata No. 9 in E Op. 14 No. 1 - 1st Movement
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Sonata No. 9 in E Op. 14 No. 1 - 1st Movement
Ludwig van Beethoven
Cratures of Prometheus (Die Geschopfe des Prometheus), Overture, Op 43
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Cratures of Prometheus (Die Geschopfe des Prometheus), Overture, Op 43
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor, Op 37
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Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor, Op 37
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130 (si bemol), Mvt 1: Adagio ma non troppo - Allegro
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String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130 (si bemol), Mvt 1: Adagio ma non troppo - Allegro
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Trio in B flat major, Op 97, 'Archduke' (3rd mvt)
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Piano Trio in B flat major, Op 97, 'Archduke' (3rd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 1 in C major (Finale)
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Symphony No. 1 in C major (Finale)
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet no.13 in B flat major, Op.130 (3rd mvt)
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String Quartet no.13 in B flat major, Op.130 (3rd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Overture to Egmont - incidental music Op.84
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Overture to Egmont - incidental music Op.84
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no. 9 in D minor Op.125
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Symphony no. 9 in D minor Op.125
Ludwig van Beethoven
Meeresstille und gluckliche Fahrt Op.112
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Meeresstille und gluckliche Fahrt Op.112
Ludwig van Beethoven
'Allegro' from Piano sonata No.15 in D major, Op.28, 'Pastorale'
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'Allegro' from Piano sonata No.15 in D major, Op.28, 'Pastorale'
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sextet in E flat major, Op. 81b: Rondo
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Sextet in E flat major, Op. 81b: Rondo
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata in C minor, Op 13, 'Pathétique' (3rd mvt)
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Piano Sonata in C minor, Op 13, 'Pathétique' (3rd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet No 13 in B flat major, Op 130
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String Quartet No 13 in B flat major, Op 130
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 2 in D, Op 36
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Symphony No. 2 in D, Op 36
Ludwig van Beethoven
Romance in E minor for piano, flute, bassoon and orchestra
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Romance in E minor for piano, flute, bassoon and orchestra
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op 68 (Pastoral)
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Symphony no 6 in F major, Op 68 (Pastoral)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.13 (Pathetique) (1st mvt: Andante)
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Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.13 (Pathetique) (1st mvt: Andante)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Clarinet Trio in B flat Op.11 - Movement 1
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Clarinet Trio in B flat Op.11 - Movement 1
Ludwig van Beethoven
Fidelio [Leonore] Op.72 (Overture)
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Fidelio [Leonore] Op.72 (Overture)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No.4 in B flat major (Op.60)
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Symphony No.4 in B flat major (Op.60)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3 ii) Largo e mesto
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Piano Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3 ii) Largo e mesto
Ludwig van Beethoven
Septet in E flat major, Op. 20 iii) Tempo di menuetto & Trio
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Septet in E flat major, Op. 20 iii) Tempo di menuetto & Trio
Ludwig van Beethoven
Fur Elise
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Fur Elise
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
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 19: III. Rondo. Molto allegro
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Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 19: III. Rondo. Molto allegro
Ludwig van Beethoven
Violin Sonata no.5 in F major, Op.24, 'Spring' (1st mvt)
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Violin Sonata no.5 in F major, Op.24, 'Spring' (1st mvt)
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