Ludwig van Beethoven

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Ludwig van Beethoven

Post  *Anxhi* on Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:04 pm

Beethoven was the grandson of a musician of Flemish origin who was also named Ludwig van Beethoven (1712-1773). As of 1733 the elder Ludwig had served as a bass singer in the court of the Elector of Cologne. He rose through the ranks of the musical establishment, eventually becoming Kapellmeister (music director). The elder Ludwig had one son, Johann van Beethoven (1740-1792), who worked as a tenor in the same musical establishment, also giving lessons on piano and violin to supplement his income.

Johann married Maria Magdalena Keverich in 1744; she was the daughter of Johann Heinrich Keverich, who had been the head chef at the court of the Archbishopric of Trier.

Beethoven was born of this marriage in Bonn in December 1770. Beethoven was baptized on 17 December 1770. Children of that era were usually baptized the day after birth, but there is no documentary evidence that this occurred in Beethoven's case. It is known that his family and his teacher Johann Albrechtsberger celebrated his birthday on 16 December. Thus, while the evidence supports the probability that 16 December 1770 as Beethoven's date of birth, this cannot be stated with certainty. Of the seven children born to Johann Beethoven, only second-born Ludwig and two younger brothers survived infancy. Caspar Anton Carl was born in 1774, and Nikolaus Johann, the youngest, was born in 1776.

Beethoven's first music teacher was his father. A traditional belief concerning Johann is that he was a harsh instructor, and that the child Beethoven, "made to stand at the keyboard, was often in tears." Concerning this, the New Grove indicates that there is no solid documentation to support it, and asserts that "speculation and myth-making have both been productive." Beethoven had other local teachers as well: the court organist van den Eeden, Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer (a family friend, who taught Beethoven piano), and a relative, Franz Rovantini (violin and viola).His musical talent manifested itself early—apparently he was advanced enough to perform at the age of nine, not seven as popularly believed. Johann, aware of Leopold Mozart's successes in this area, attempted unsuccessfully to exploit his son as a child prodigy. It was Johann who falsified Beethoven's actual age (which was seven) for six on the posters for Beethoven's first public performance in March 1778.

Some time after 1779, Beethoven began his studies with his most important teacher in Bonn, Christian Gottlob Neefe, who was appointed the Court's Organist in that year.[8] Neefe taught Beethoven composition, and by March 1783 had helped him write his first published composition: a set of keyboard variations (WoO 63). Beethoven soon began working with Neefe as assistant organist, first on an unpaid basis (1781), and then as paid employee (1784) of the court chapel conducted by the Kapellmeister Andrea Luchesi. His first three piano sonatas, named "Kurfürst" ("Elector") for their dedication to the Elector Maximilian Frederick, were published in 1783. Maximilian Frederick, who died in 1784, not long after Beethoven's appointment as assistant organist, had noticed Beethoven's talent early, and had subsidized and encouraged the young Beethoven's musical studies.

In 1787 another of Beethoven's early patrons, Count Waldstein, enabled him to travel to Vienna for the first time, hoping to study with Mozart. Scholars disagree on the authenticity of a story whereby Beethoven is said to have played for Mozart and impressed him; see Mozart and Beethoven. After just two months in Vienna, Beethoven learned that his mother was severely ill, and he was forced to return home. His mother died shortly thereafter, and the father lapsed deeper into alcoholism. As a result, Beethoven became responsible for the care of his two younger brothers, and he spent the next five years in Bonn.

In 1789, he succeeded in obtaining a legal order by which half of his father's salary was paid directly to him for support of the family. Another source of income was payment for Beethoven's service as a violist in the court orchestra. This familiarized Beethoven with three of Mozart's operas performed at court in this period.

Establishing his career in Vienna

With the Elector's help, Beethoven moved again to Vienna in 1792. Beethoven did not immediately set out to establish himself as a composer, but rather devoted himself to study and to piano performance. Working under the direction of Joseph Haydn, he sought to master counterpoint, and he also took violin lessons. At the same time, he established a reputation as a piano virtuoso and improviser in the salons of the nobility, often playing the preludes and fugues of J. S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.

With Haydn's departure for England in 1794, Beethoven was expected by the Elector to return home. He chose instead to remain in Vienna, continuing the instruction in counterpoint with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and other teachers. Although his stipend from the Elector expired, a number of Viennese noblemen had already recognized his ability and offered him financial support, among them Prince Joseph Franz Lobkowicz, Prince Karl Lichnowsky, and Baron Gottfried van Swieten.

By 1793, Beethoven established a reputation in Vienna as a piano virtuoso. Beethoven's first public performance in Vienna was in 1795, with his Second (or perhaps First) Piano Concerto. In the same year he saw the publication of the first of his compositions to which he assigned an opus number, the piano trios of Opus 1.

During his early career as a composer, Beethoven concentrated first on works for piano solo, then string quartets, symphonies, and other genres. This was a pattern he was to repeat in the "late" period of his career. Twelve of Beethoven's famous series of 32 piano sonatas date from before 1802, and could be considered early-period works; of these, the most celebrated today is probably the "Pathétique", Op. 13. The first six quartets were published as a set (Op. 18) in 1800, and the First and Second Symphonies premiered in 1800 and 1802. By 1800, with the premiere of his First Symphony, Beethoven was already considered one of the most important of a generation of young composers who followed after Haydn and Mozart.

All musical authorities agree that Beethoven's early work was closely modeled on that of Haydn and Mozart. However, Beethoven's own musical personality is still very much evident even at this stage. This is seen, for instance, in his frequent use of the musical dynamic sforzando, found even in the early "Kurfürst" sonatas for piano that Beethoven wrote as a child. Some of the longer piano sonatas of the 1790s are written in a rather discursive style quite unlike their models, making use of the so-called "three-key exposition".

In this time he settled into a career pattern he would follow for the remainder of his life: rather than working for the church or a noble court (as most composers before him had done), he supported himself through a combination of annual stipends or single gifts from members of the aristocracy; income from subscription concerts, concerts, and lessons; and proceeds from sales of his works.

Teaching and financial support

Beethoven had few students. From 1801 to 1805, he tutored Ferdinand Ries, who would go on to become a composer and later published Beethoven remembered, a book about their encounters.

Carl Czerny studied with Beethoven from 1801 to 1803. He went on to become a renowned music teacher himself, taking on Franz Liszt as one of his students. He also gave the Vienna premiere of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor" in 1812.

Perhaps Beethoven's most important aristocratic patron was Archduke Rudolph, youngest son of Emperor Leopold II, who in 1803 or 1804 began to study piano and composition with Beethoven. The two became friends, and their meetings continued until 1824. Beethoven dedicated 14 compositions to Rudolph, including the Archduke Trio (1811) and his great Missa Solemnis (1823). Rudolph, in turn, dedicated one of his own compositions to Beethoven. The letters Beethoven wrote to Rudolph are today kept at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna.

Other important patrons were Prince Lichnowsky, with whom Beethoven had a falling out in 1806, Count Franz Joseph Kinsky, and Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz.

In the fall of 1808, after having been rejected for a position at the royal theatre, Beethoven received an offer from Napoleon's brother Jérôme Bonaparte, then king of Westphalia, for a well-paid position as Kapellmeister at the court in Cassel. To persuade him to stay in Vienna, the Archduke Rudolf, Count Kinsky and Prince Lobkowitz, after receiving representations from the composer's friends, pledged to pay Beethoven a pension of 4000 florins a year. Only Archduke Rudolf paid his share of the pension on the agreed date. Kinsky, immediately called to duty as an officer, did not contribute and soon died after falling from his horse. Lobkowitz stopped paying in September 1811. No successors came forward to continue the patronage, and Beethoven relied mostly on selling composition rights and a smaller pension after 1815.

Loss of hearing

Around 1796, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. He suffered a severe form of tinnitus, a "ringing" in his ears that made it hard for him to perceive and appreciate music; he also avoided conversation. The cause of Beethoven's deafness is unknown, but it has variously been attributed to syphilis, lead poisoning, typhus, and even his habit of immersing his head in cold water to stay awake. The oldest explanation, from the autopsy of the time, is that he had a "distended inner ear" which developed lesions over time.

Russell Martin has shown from analysis done on a sample of Beethoven's hair that there were alarmingly high levels of lead in Beethoven's system. High concentrations of lead can lead to bizarre and erratic behaviour, including rages. Another symptom of lead poisoning is deafness. In Beethoven's time, lead was used widely without an understanding of the damage it could lead to: for sweetening wine, in finishes on porcelain, and even in medicines. The investigation of this link was detailed in the book, Beethoven's Hair: An Extraordinary Historical Odyssey and a Scientific Mystery Solved. However, while the likelihood of lead poisoning is very high, the deafness associated with it seldom takes the form that Beethoven exhibited.

He lived for a time in the small Austrian town of Heiligenstadt, just outside Vienna. Here he wrote his Heiligenstadt Testament, which records his resolution to continue living for and through his art. Over time, his hearing loss became profound: there is a well-attested story that, at the end of the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, he had to be turned around to see the tumultuous applause of the audience; hearing nothing, he began to weep. Beethoven's hearing loss did not prevent his composing music, but it made concerts—lucrative sources of income—increasingly hard. After a failed attempt in 1811 to perform his own Piano Concerto No. 5 (the "Emperor"), he never performed in public again.

Beethoven used a special rod attached to the soundboard on a piano that he could bite—the vibrations would then transfer from the piano to his jaw to increase his perception of the sound. A large collection of his hearing aids such as special ear horns can be viewed at the Beethoven House Museum in Bonn, Germany. Despite his obvious distress, however, Carl Czerny remarked that Beethoven could still hear speech and music normally until 1812. By 1814 however, Beethoven was almost totally deaf, and when a group of visitors saw him play a loud arpeggio or thundering bass notes at his piano remarking, "Ist es nicht schön?" (Isn't that beautiful?), they felt deep sympathy considering his courage and sense of humor.

As a result of Beethoven's hearing loss, a unique historical record has been preserved: his conversation books. His friends wrote in the book so that he could know what they were saying, and he then responded either orally or in the book. The books contain discussions about music and other issues, and give insights into his thinking; they are a source for investigation into how he felt his music should be performed, and also his perception of his relationship to art. Unfortunately, 264 out of a total of 400 conversation books were destroyed (and others were altered) after Beethoven's death by Anton Schindler, in his attempt to paint an idealized picture of the composer.

Overview

Beethoven composed in a fairly wide variety of musical genres, and for a fairly wide variety of instrument combinations. His works for symphony orchestra include nine symphonies (of which the Ninth includes a chorus), and about a dozen pieces of "occasional" music. He wrote nine concerti for one or more soloists and orchestra, as well as four shorter works that include soloists accompanied by orchestra. Fidelio is the only opera he wrote; vocal works including orchestral accompaniment include two masses and a number of shorter works.

His work for piano was extensive; 32 piano sonatas, and numerous shorter works, including arrangements (for piano solo or piano duet) of some of his other works. Works with piano accompaniment include 10 violin sonatas, 5 cello sonatas, and a sonata for french horn, as well as numerous lieder.

The amount of chamber music produced by Beethoven was notable. In addition to the 16 string quartets, he wrote five works for string quintet, seven for piano trio, five for string trio, and more than a dozen works for a variety of combinations of wind instruments.

Working with the traditions of the classical sonata forms, he continued the work of Haydn and Mozart in expanding and loosening the structures and becoming increasingly reliant on motivic development.

Mund ta lexoni te plote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_van_Beethoven

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven

Post  *Anxhi* on Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:14 pm

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven

Post  *Anxhi* on Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:22 pm

Fur Elise - Per Elizen



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