Ludwig van Beethoven, also known as ” The General of Musicians,” was born on December 16, 1770. However, this date is not exact because it is believed that Beethoven’s father lied about his son’s age in order to portray him as an infant prodigy. As a result, Beethoven is convinced he was born on December 16, 1772 at the Rheingasse home, which belonged to the Fischers, who were close friends of the family (Orga 8). Johann van and Maria Magdalena Beethoven bore five children of which three survived.
Ludwig van Beethoven was the first child to survive, probably making him the most cherished especially in his father’s eyes. The other two surviving siblings were Casper and Nikolaus. They were said to have played extremely important roles in Beethoven’s life. Johann van said to be a lesser man than his father Ludwig Louis van Beethoven, who was a trained musician and later appointed Kapellmeister. Many believed he could not compare to his dad because he did not have a high-ranking job, instead his income was based on giving piano, singing, and violin lessons to the public (Kerman 354).
Johann wanted his first son to be great, especially in the music field, so he pushed him to learn the piano and violin at a very early age. For instance, Beethoven had his first public appearance at the age of eight on March 26, 1778. He performed at a concert with one of his father’s other pupils. His performance consisted of concertos and trios on the keyboard. Beethoven continued to play at concerts, as well as taking music lessons with instructors other than his father. When visiting the Fischer Family one day Johann proclaimed, “My son Ludwig is my only comfort now in life.
He is improving in his music to such an extent that he is admired by everyone. I foresee that in time he will be a great man in the world” (Orga 29). During this time he also attended elementary school in Bonn, but he did not exceed grade school. Beethoven learned all he could by age ten and from then on he lived off his wits and curiosity (Orga 28). In 1779, Beethoven met his first very important teacher at Bonn by the name of Christian Neefe. Neefe automatically saw Beethoven’s talent and had a strong liking to him from the beginning.
Moreover, when he took a short leave of absence from Bonn, he appointed Beethoven, at only eleven years old, to fill his spot as an assistant. Neefe exclaimed, “He would surely become a second Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart if he were to continue as he has begun” (Kerman 355). This great German composer did continue as he begun and published his first work in 1783. It was a variation of Dressler’s March. Following this publication he then accomplished his first significant composition later that year (Kerman 355).
Next, Beethoven’s life took a turn for the worst in 1787. A young man at the mere age of nineteen lost his mother to tuberculosis; this brought him depression, ill health, and a lack of financial resources (Kerman 355). During this time of sorrow he still performed in numerous concerts with his orchestra and made many friends along the way (Kerman 356). The most influential friend he met was probably Mozart. Beethoven looked up to Mozart and actually went to Munich for a few weeks to ask Mozart to give him a theme for improvisation.
Mozart also thought highly of him by exclaiming to his friends, “Keep your eyes on him; someday he will give the world something to talk about” (Orga 33). One of his journeys brought him to Vienna in 1792, where he remained for the rest of his life. His move was based on his new teacher Haydn’s position as Europe’s greatest composer (Orga 42). The month after this move, his father died in Bonn (Kerman 357). As time went on, Beethoven and Haydn’s relationship turned sour, resulting in a replacement teacher. His name was Johann Albrichtaberger.
Their teacher-pupil relationship proved successful. Finally, Beethoven established himself as prominent pianist and composer. Moreover, his quick and easy success was accomplished by two things. First, he had immediate contacts with people in the aristocratic circle. Second, they undoubtedly welcomed him. A lack of either one of these opportunities would have significantly altered his fame and success (Kerman 358). In 1801, one of the most devastating incidents hindered Beethoven’s life. He suffered from a musician’s worst nightmare, deafness.
He realized that this would cause trouble for not only hi professional life but his social life as well (Kerman 360). Although Beethoven supposedly fell in love many times, he never was married (Marek 223). As a result of his deafness and inability to have long lasting intimate relationships, he focused all of his melancholy attention to his music. Therefore, that is why his most profounded works were written towards the end of his life. The greatest work he composed was probably the Fifth Symphony, which he wrote with great passion due to these losses (Kerman 354).
It is in succession of C minor to C major causing difficulty in copying the imagination. Even today the Fifth Symphony is interpreted as the musical project of Beethoven’s resolution. “I will grapple with Fate; it shall not overcome me! ” claims Beethoven (Grout 333). All of his works include nine symphonies, 11 overtures, incidental music to plays, a violin concerto, 5 piano concertos, 16 string quartets, 9 piano trios, 10 violin sonatas, 5 violoncello sonatas, 30 large piano sonatas, an oratorio, an opera, and 2 masses.
Although Mozart had fifty symphonies and Haydn had over 100, Beethoven’s nine surpassed theirs because his were longer and written with greater difficulty (Grout 324). This legend had such a broad ability in composing music that he could not bear to hinder himself with just one field. In essence, Ludwig van Beethoven passed away on March 26, 1827 at the young age of 56. His funeral was held on the 29th of March and about 15,000 guests attended his burial. The surrounding schools were closed that day in respect of the composer.
Also, out of respect the choir sang the Miserere in an arrangement from one of his Equali for trombones. Following the singing, about 200 horse carriages accompanied the coffin on its final journey (Orga 8). To conclude, Beethoven was know as “The General of Musicians,” “The Young Genius,” and the most admired composer in the history of western music. His musical ability, his passion, and his harsh losses all helped to contribute to his undying success as a great pianist and composer. Even today his works are still studied and listened to around the world.