A Biographical Sketch of Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven (December 1770- March 1827) was a pianist and composer- arguably the greatest and most influential composer of all time. He made his mark in history with the crucial role that he played in the transition of classical eras in art music. He had a full and varied music career and wasn’t afraid to move his numerous compositions from the tried and tested musical styles. In terms or the world’s greatest, Beethoven only comes second to the likes of Mozart or Bach. Beethoven is best known for his compositions, which include 32 piano sonatas, 5 concertos for piano, 16 string quartets and 9 symphonies (Anderson 1044). ...view middle of the document...
At the age of 14, following Neefe’s recommendation, Beethoven was appointed as the organist at the court of Maximillian Franz. The new post not only enabled him to create new social circles, but also enabled him to double up the role of his father who was slowly succumbing to alcoholism. Beethoven took up the responsibility of catering for his two younger brothers, both financially and otherwise.
Beethoven’s Music Career
The epochal career that Beethoven had in music can be divided into three periods- the early period, the middle and the late periods. Such periods are distinguished by the vocabulary expansion of his revolutionary music, as well as classic period models and the incorporation of variation and contrapuntal elements in his musical compositions. Apart from the influence of his father and other musicians such as Neefe, Beethoven was able to expand his musical prowess by befriending other respected artists such as Joseph Haydn. The two met in 1790 and arrangements were made for Beethoven to start studying under Haydn. In 1792, when he was 22, Beethoven moved to Vienna where he would study under the skilled master. This marked the official onset of his musical career as he composed numerous works under the guidance of Haydn. Although none of these works were published, most of these are listed today as works without opus and serve to demonstrate the growing musical maturity of Beethoven under Haydn (Dalhaus & Whittall 11).
Over the years that followed, Beethoven responded to the ever-growing feeling that he was the new Mozart by devoting his time to studying the works of Mozart, as well as composing works that had Mozart’s flavor. However, Beethoven did not set out to become a composer at the time. Rather, under Haydn’s guidance, he chose to concentrate on study and performance. Occasionally, he also received instruction from Antonio Salieri from who he sought to master Italian vocal composition styles (Thayer 23). Even with the departure of Haydn from Vienna to England in 1794, Beethoven prolonged his stay in Vienna where a number of teachers had recognized his prowess and were supporting him financially.
The musical maturity of Beethoven was evidenced when, between 1798 and 1800, he composed what became his first six quartets. Following the publication of these quartets in 1801, Beethoven also published his first two symphonies in between 1800 and 1803. So highly rated were the symphonies that Beethoven came to be viewed as one of the most influential artists of his generation, following the likes of his teacher Haydn and Mozart before him. At around the same period, Beethoven also mastered and wrote in other varied forms, especially piano sonatas. In 1800, Beethoven also completed what became the most popular work of his lifetime- his Septet (Prevot 1).
The works of Beethoven were heavily influenced by those of Haydn and Mozart. Some of his compositions bear strong resemblance to those of the two veterans, although he...