Ludwig van Beethoven
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/960x540/p01bqf5y.jpg
1770-12-17
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/1f9df192-a621-4f54-8850-2c5373b7eac9
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 Performances & Interviews


Featured Works


Ludwig van Beethoven Tracks

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no. 9 in D minor Op.125 (Choral)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony no. 9 in D minor Op.125 (Choral)

Sort by

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No 4 in B flat major, Op 60 (4th mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony No 4 in B flat major, Op 60 (4th mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Elegischer Gesang, Op.118
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Elegischer Gesang, Op.118
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no. 8 in F major, Op.93
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony no. 8 in F major, Op.93
Ludwig van Beethoven
Violin Concerto In D Major Op.61: Rondo Allegro
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Violin Concerto In D Major Op.61: Rondo Allegro
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata quasi una fantasia for piano (Op.27 No.2) in C sharp minor, 'Moonlight'
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Sonata quasi una fantasia for piano (Op.27 No.2) in C sharp minor, 'Moonlight'
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata no. 18 in E flat major Op.31'3
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Sonata no. 18 in E flat major Op.31'3
Ludwig van Beethoven
Romance No.1 in G major for violin and orchestra, Op.40
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Romance No.1 in G major for violin and orchestra, Op.40
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No 4 in B flat major, Op 60 (3rd mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony No 4 in B flat major, Op 60 (3rd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Quartet in F major Op.135 for strings
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Quartet in F major Op.135 for strings
Ludwig van Beethoven
String quartet in F major, Hess34
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
String quartet in F major, Hess34
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Trio in E flat, Op 1 No 1 (4th mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Trio in E flat, Op 1 No 1 (4th mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat major, Op 19 (3rd mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat major, Op 19 (3rd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Violin Sonata in F Major, Op. 24 "Spring"
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Violin Sonata in F Major, Op. 24 "Spring"
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet in B flat major Op.18`6 (3rd mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
String Quartet in B flat major Op.18`6 (3rd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quintet in C major Op.29 (3rd mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
String Quintet in C major Op.29 (3rd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Coriolan Overture
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Coriolan Overture
Ludwig van Beethoven
Cello Sonata No.3 in A major, op.69 - ii. Scherzo
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Cello Sonata No.3 in A major, op.69 - ii. Scherzo
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet no.11 in F minor Op.95 "Serioso" - 1st mvt: Allegro con bio
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
String Quartet no.11 in F minor Op.95 "Serioso" - 1st mvt: Allegro con bio
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Trio in B flat major, Op 97, 'Archduke' (2nd mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Trio in B flat major, Op 97, 'Archduke' (2nd mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Five Scottish and Irish songs
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Five Scottish and Irish songs
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no. 3 in E flat major, Op.55 'Eroica'
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony no. 3 in E flat major, Op.55 'Eroica'
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no. 1 in C major, Op.21
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony no. 1 in C major, Op.21

Symphony no. 1 in C major, Op.21

Orchestra
Triton Hareta Umino Orchestra
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no. 5 (Op.67) in C minor, 1st movement; Allegro con brio
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony no. 5 (Op.67) in C minor, 1st movement; Allegro con brio
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata no 21 in C major, op.53 “Waldstein” – Allegro con brio
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Sonata no 21 in C major, op.53 “Waldstein” – Allegro con brio
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 79
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Sonata in G major, Op 79
Ludwig van Beethoven
String Quartet in A minor, Op 132
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
String Quartet in A minor, Op 132

String Quartet in A minor, Op 132

Performer
Frederik Oland
Rune Tonsgaard Sorensen
Asbjorn Norgaard
Fredrik Sjölin
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata No 18 in E flat major (4th mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Sonata No 18 in E flat major (4th mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Trio in C minor, Op.1`3 (4th mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Trio in C minor, Op.1`3 (4th mvt)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Coriolan Overture, Op 62
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Coriolan Overture, Op 62
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No.3 'Eroica'
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony No.3 'Eroica'
Ludwig van Beethoven
Romance in G major for Violin and Orchestra Op 40
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Romance in G major for Violin and Orchestra Op 40
Ludwig van Beethoven
Coriolan Overture, Op 62
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Coriolan Overture, Op 62
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata no.24 in F sharp major Op.78
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Sonata no.24 in F sharp major Op.78
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor (Op.57) "Appassionata"
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor (Op.57) "Appassionata"
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no. 8 in F major Op.93
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony no. 8 in F major Op.93
Ludwig van Beethoven
Violin Concerto in D major, Op 61
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Violin Concerto in D major, Op 61
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata no 21 in C major, Op 53 ('Waldstein')
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Sonata no 21 in C major, Op 53 ('Waldstein')
Ludwig van Beethoven
Suite for mechanical organ (Scherzo)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Suite for mechanical organ (Scherzo)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Violin Concerto in D major op. 61: II. Larghetto (arr. for piano & orchestra)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Violin Concerto in D major op. 61: II. Larghetto (arr. for piano & orchestra)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Quartet for strings (Op.95) in F minor
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Quartet for strings (Op.95) in F minor
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano concerto No.2 in B flat, Op.19
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano concerto No.2 in B flat, Op.19

Piano concerto No.2 in B flat, Op.19

Orchestra
Israel Camerata Jerusalem
Conductor
Avner Biron
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata no.23 in F minor Op.57 'Appassionata' - movement 3
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Sonata no.23 in F minor Op.57 'Appassionata' - movement 3
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op 60
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op 60
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto no 3 in C minor, Op 37
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Piano Concerto no 3 in C minor, Op 37
Ludwig van Beethoven
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61
Ludwig van Beethoven
Overture to Egmont - incidental music Op.84
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Overture to Egmont - incidental music Op.84
Ludwig van Beethoven
Octet in E flat major Op.103 for wind (feat. Bläserensemble Sabine Meyer)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Octet in E flat major  Op.103 for wind (feat. Bläserensemble Sabine Meyer)
Ludwig van Beethoven
Wind Octet in E flat major, Op 103
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Wind Octet in E flat major, Op 103
Ludwig van Beethoven
Concerto in D major Op.61 for violin and orchestra
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Concerto in D major Op.61 for violin and orchestra
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No 3 in E flat major, Op 55, 'Eroica' (3rd mvt)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p065ztr1.jpg
link
Symphony No 3 in E flat major, Op 55, 'Eroica' (3rd mvt)
Load more tracks

Latest Ludwig van Beethoven News

    6 BBC broadcasts that will transport you deep into the tranquility of British nature
    Drift away into a pastoral idyll with these programmes and performances inspired by, and about, the countryside
    Your favourite Proms moments from the 2015 season
    Enjoy this list of just a few great performances from a blockbuster season
Back to artist