Short Biography of Ludwig van Beethoven
Known at an early age by his father that his son was a piano virtuoso, Ludwig van Beethoven would play the piano, create music, and improvise both day and night. Finally able to escape the clutches of his alcoholic father, Beethoven moved to Austria where his art was not only appreciated, but also adored.
In his early 20s, Beethoven left his two younger brothers and headed off to Vienna, where he worked as a freelance musician and composer, playing at will and finding support from various contributors, aristocrats and patrons alike. He didn’t want to be funded by only one noble family or a church, which was a common practice during his time, so he decided that he would use his gifts at his own choosing. He would then not feel ‘owned’ or ‘indebted’ to anyone.
He had been educated at an early age by his father, who was also a musician in Bonn. Upon moving to Vienna for the first time, it was said that he performed for Mozart at the age of 15. At 16, he had to return home because his mother was dying of tuberculosis, known as ‘consumption’ in that period. It would be in between five and ten years before he would return to Vienna, which he had always kept in the back of his mind in Germany, to continue studying and playing under Joseph Haydn. Even with such great composers and music teachers, Beethoven surpassed their playing level, creating ballads that mixed the Romantic and Classical styles of the day.
By the age of 27, Beethoven began to go deaf. Within a few years, he would not be able to hear at all. This almost led him to suicide, but he found that he could still ‘hear’ the music inside his head. So, he continued composing and writing music, often publishing and selling the rights to his work for profit. Before his deafness, he stuck to many of the contemporary styles of the day, but soon wrote Pathétique and Moonlight, which would bring him much acclaim.
In his latter years, he composed his only opera, called Fidelio and went on to write quartets, including his Ninth Symphony and Missa Solemnis. While his personal life was troubled and he never married, he became the world’s most renowned composer. Suffering from ill-health for nearly twenty years, what most recently has been believed to be led poisoning, Beethoven lives on as the most recognized composer and piano virtuoso the world has ever produced.
People interested in this biography of Ludwig van Beethoven may also be interested in:
- Joseph Haydn
- Johan Georg Albrechtsberger
- Antonio Salieri
- Hans Keller
- Franz Schubert
- Johann Strauss I
- Johannes Brahms
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart