greatest composers and I shall be proud to be able to speak of myself as his teacher by FB9lX9Q


									Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Can you imagine what it would be like to compose some of
the most beautiful music but never hear it yourself because
you were deaf? That is what happened with Ludwig Van
Beethoven. Born in Bonn in 1770, Beethoven liked to claim
that the Van in the middle of his name meant that he came
from an aristocratic family, but in fact he came from quite a
normal family with his ancestors originally from Holland.
There is no doubt that he came from a tough background.
His father was determined that his son was going to be the
new Mozart and made him study the piano all day, every
day. Amazingly this did not put him off music, he loved it
and the hours of practise meant that he became a brilliant
young pianist. Later on in his life he wrote some of the
greatest of all pieces for the piano including the ‘Moonlight Sonata’.

Beethoven was taught by another famous man, Joseph Haydn. He is the same Joseph
Haydn who was a friend of Mozart. Haydn said of Beethoven; ‘This young man will in
time fill the position of one of Europe’s greatest composers and I shall be proud to be
able to speak of myself as his teacher’. Unfortunately Beethoven said that he learnt
nothing from Joseph Haydn.

Beethoven was born 14 years after Mozart and the young Ludwig played for Mozart
who was by then an adult. Mozart was impressed saying; ‘Keep your eye on him, one
day he will make the world talk of him’.

Because music was becoming so popular in France, Austria, Germany and Italy during
the late 18th Century, it was fairly easy for promising youngsters to make a name for
themselves. They tended to get taken on as pupils by more experienced composers and
that is why the young Beethoven was able to meet people like Haydn and Mozart. All
the hard work at the piano keyboard as a young boy paid off, because as a grown up

Beethoven was a brilliant pianist. Audiences flocked to hear him and he became friends
with many rich noble men and noble women from Vienna’s high society.

During his concerts he played his own pieces such as his Piano Sonata No.8 in the key
of C minor which has the nickname ‘Pathétique’ because it is filled with so many
different emotions. If you play the piano yourself you may have come across the piece
called ‘Für Elise’.

By the time he was twenty-six, Beethoven realised he had a problem with his hearing.
At first he tried to hide this from his friends, but they gradually realised. One day he
was out in the country-side with his friend Ferdinand Ries. Ries said;

‘After having walked for about an hour, we sat down to have a
rest in the grass. Suddenly from the slope on the other side of
the valley, came the sound of a shepherd’s pipe. It was
unexpected melody under the clear blue sky and the deep solitude of the woods, made
a remarkable impression on me. Since Beethoven was sitting next to me I commented
on this. The sounds continued so bright and clear and it was not possible to miss a
single note. He listened but I was able to see from his expression that he had heard
nothing. In order not to sadden or alarm him I pretended that I too could no longer
hear. But the sweet fascination which these sounds had exercised on me at first, now
turned into the feeling of the most profound sadness’.

Beethoven’s hearing gradually got worse and within five years he was almost
completely deaf. But his deafness did not stop him from composing some of the most
beautiful music ever written. It is a sign of how brilliant he was to that he achieved this
even though he himself was never able to actually hear many of his pieces. When many
musicians look at a page of music, it all comes alive in their heads, the way most of us
look at a painting or a photograph of say a horse and then can imagine the movement
of the horse running fast and the sound of his hooves thundering across the field. So
even though he was deaf, Beethoven could compose the music in his head and write it
down on paper and when he looked at the paper, he could hear the music in his head.
However, he did have trouble coming to terms with losing his hearing. During the time
he was going deaf he would angrily thump the piano very hard in an effort to hear the
notes, sometimes even breaking the strings of the piano. That must not have made him
very popular with his neighbours.

Beethoven was in fact a rather difficult man who had wild hair, was gruff and
sometimes bad-tempered and when he lost his temper he tended to do it in style. Once
when he was eating in a restaurant, the waiter got in a muddle and brought him a meal
that he had not ordered, instead of the one that he wanted. Beethoven was cross! In
fact he was more than cross – he was angry! Very angry indeed! He went bright red, he
screamed and he shouted and then he picked up the plate of beef stew in front of him
and he threw it at the waiter. The beef stew flew through the air and landed on top of
the waiters head. He had his hands full with other plates so all the waiter could do was
stand there in the middle of the restaurant with gravy and lumps of meat trickling down
his face and the back of his neck. This is not really the way that a famous composer
                      should behave in a restaurant. That was not the only occasion
                      Beethoven threw food around the place. He loved eating a soup
                      made from eggs and whenever his cook served this dish he
                      always demanded to inspect the eggs beforehand. If any of them
                      proved to have gone off he would throw them straight at the
                      poor cook who would become covered in sticky egg yolk. Again
this is not the way a famous composer should behave in the kitchen.

Beethoven liked to pretend that he was very poor, but in fact he was reasonably well
off. He made sure he kept the details of his money making investments secret from
everyone else. He was incredibly scruffy and not terribly keen on having a bath, so he
probably did not smell very sweet either. Once he was arrested and thrown into prison
by a policeman who thought he was a tramp. Despite the scruffy individual’s loud
shouts of ‘I am Beethoven’, as he was being taken away, it took one of the most senior
musicians in Vienna to reassure the officer that the tramp was in fact the great
composer himself. The police officials were very embarrassed and Beethoven was
released from prison straight away.

Beethoven wrote a lot of incidental music for the theatre. This was performed to add
atmosphere to what was on the stage, or even to fill a gap when there was not much
happening. If the cinema had been invented in those days there is no doubt that
Beethoven would have been busy writing film music. He wrote the Egmont overture. An
overture is the bit that comes at the beginning and often gives you a music taster of
the tunes that will come later. Like Mozart, Beethoven was another one of those
composers who wrote all kinds of music; concertos, choral works and pieces for solo
instruments. But unlike Mozart, he tended to take quite a long time to write each of his
pieces. Mozart was able to compose a new work incredibly quickly, whereas Beethoven
liked to spend weeks and months working on a new tune. He would often work things
out in his head before finally writing it down. Then he would spend a long time crossing
things out and trying new ideas before eventually settling on what he wanted. His work
books were a real mess and it was not unusual for him to spill his food all over them.

Beethoven composed only one opera and it took him an awfully long time to get it
right. It was called ‘Fidelio’ and it was a love story. One of the best known choruses in
                  the opera is sung by a group of prisoners, known as the ‘Prisoner’s
                  Chorus’. Beethoven rewrote ‘Fidelio’ over and over again. One of the
                  songs (arias) caused him no end of trouble and he ended up rewriting
                  it no fewer than eighteen times. He was not happy with the beginning
of the opera either and he composed four completely different overtures before he
finally ended up with the one that he liked.

Beethoven’s speciality was the symphony which he developed hugely in his lifetime. His
first symphony sounded like the symphonies of Mozart and Haydn, nice and neat and
tidy. Four years later when he wrote his third symphony which was nicknamed the
‘Eroica’, things were starting to sound rather different.

There was then a gap of twenty years between his third symphony and his final ninth
symphony which sounded very different. Many believe that his final symphony was his
biggest triumph and you can hear why. It used a much bigger orchestra than before
which produced a stronger and more dramatic sound. He even added a big choir and
four solo singers. This was a revolution at the time. By the time this piece was first
performed in public, Beethoven was completely deaf. On the big night he sat on the
stage with his back to the audience. At the end of the concert, it was only when one of
the singers turned him round to face the audience that he realised they had been wildly
cheering and applauding his master piece.

Beethoven was fifty-seven years old when he died. His funeral was very different to
Mozart’s. More than ten thousand people came out onto the streets of Vienna to say
goodbye to him. Many of the town’s well known musicians went to the funeral service,
including another famous composer called Franz Schubert. Beethoven had conquered
so much during his life. He overcame his deafness to write the most incredibly beautiful
music and to write music in a way that no one else had done before. That is why this
famous composer is probably the most remarkable of them all.


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