What would article series about composers be without Ludwig van Beethoven, one more on the long list of the greatest ones. Surprisingly, the date of birth of Ludwig is not known, instead, we know when he was baptized – 17December 1770, and where he was born – in Bonn.
He died at the age of 56 on 26th March 1827, after losing his hearing and heavy alcohol-related problems, as the autopsy revealed huge liver damage. His friends that were present at the death of his reported that at the time of his death, there was a peal of thunder at the sole moment of his death.
Beethoven started displaying his music skills at a young age, taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and Christian Gottlob Neefe. He intended to study with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn during his first 22 years of life, and realized it in 1792 when he moved to Vienna and began studying with Haydn, which he had already befriended earlier. At that time, he was quickly gaining a reputation as virtuoso pianist.
His hearing problems started around 1796, by the age of 26, when he began to lose his hearing. Autopsy revealed that he “distended inner ear”, which developed lesions over time, making it difficult for him to hear music. Large amount of his hearing aids can be found at the Beethoven House Museum in Bonn, Germany. He could still hear music and talk “normally” until 1812, but after 1814 he was considered completely deaf.
Ludwig is considered one of the giants of classical music, often referred to as one of the Three Bs (Beethoven, Bach and Brahms). Interesting fact – his music is featured twice on the Voyager Golden Record (phonograph record containing a broad sample of the images, common sounds, languages, and music of Earth, sent into outer space with the Voyager probes – Wikipedia). He composed in several different genres and for a huge variety of instruments. His works include nine symphonies, a dozen pieces of “occasional” music, seven concerti, four shorter works, only one opera (Fidelio), two masses, thirty two piano sonatas, 10 violin sonatas, 5 cello sonatas and one for the French horn, 16 string quarters, five works for string quintet, seven for piano trio, five for string trio and more than a dozen for combinations of wind instruments.
I often play his music and I really like the way he composed, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a museum dedicated to him in his place of birth (Bonn), called