The actual birth date of Ludwig Van Beethoven falls somewhere during the year of 1770 in Bonn, Germany. The earliest known reference existing pertaining to his birth indicates that he was baptized in the same city on December 17 of the same year. Exposed to music studies since his childhood, his father, Johann, who himself was an accomplished singer and instrumentalist of the Elector of Cologne at Bonn and the C.G. Neefe court organist, served as his early music mentor. Very little is known about his mother except that like his father, they both originated from Brabant, Belgium. While his father was known to take to the bottle quite often, his mother displayed a certain meekness about her and was often described by Beethoven as his “best-friend”. Beethoven came from a family composed of 7 children.
A child music prodigy of his time, he debuted his public music career at the age of 7 -1/2 on March 26, 1778 in the town of Cologne. It was later found out that his father made an error in announcing his son, who was actually 6 years old at the time. Eventually, Johann had taught everything the boy needed to know about music and had to be sent to other teachers such as Gottlob Neefe, who also acted as the boy’s teacher in the area of philosophers of the ancient and modern world.
His first work: 9 Variations, in C Minor for the Piano, was published in 1782 when he was 12 years old. Due to the influence of Neefe in the courts, Beethoven was appointed to the court of Prince Maximilian Franz on June 1784 at the age of 14. Due the financial success of the young man, he slowly gained the position of head of the family at home as his father was constantly drunk and he had taken over providing for the family. Sent for further music study to Vienna in 1787 by Prince Maximilian where he had met Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his higher education was disrupted by news that his mother was on her deathbed and he needed to return. She passed away in 1787.
Returning to Vienna in 1792 to pursue further music studies, he decided to settle permanently in the city. Under the tutelage of the likes of Haydn and Salieri, his musical skills won the hearts of the Viennese who were the first to enjoy the release of his Opus 1, 3 Trios for Piano in 1794 before publicly performing for the people in 1795 which led to a musical tour of Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, and finally, Budapest.
By the year 1801 he began to experience symptoms of going deaf. Rather than wallowing in self-pity and perhaps deciding to end his life, he instead began to write his greatest works such as The Storm, Opus 31 and The 2nd and 3rd Symphonies between the years of 1801 and 1805. While his opera Fidelio was performed in 1809. It is widely believed that his musical genius covered 4 different eras in his life. 1778-1802 is known as the “New Manner” or “New Way” of music. Then from 1802-1812 was the time when he completed his work on the 7th and 8th symphonies. His last musical phase in 1818, saw the composing of the Hammerklavier Sonata. The final creative period before his death was between 1824-1826 where he composed his last 5 quartets.
He became both a teacher to the youth and a composer but felt like leaving Vienna in 1809. A decision that was changed when his wealthy friends in the royal court made him the first independent composer by paying him 4,000 florins a year provided that he stayed in the city. This ended when his benefactor Prince Lobkowitz died and his estate decided to no longer pay their share of the annual stipend to the composer. He died on March 26, 1827 after numerous years of health struggles and was honored with funeral honors at the Holy Trinity Church.
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“Ludwig Van Beethoven”. Classical Music Pages. 1996. Web.