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Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the greatest composers who has ever lived. He was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1770. His father and grandmother were court musicians. His father taught him to play the piano and the violin — hoping that one day he would earn money, as Mozart did.
Beethoven's instruction was poor until he was able to study under court organist Christian Gottlob Neefe, who drilled him in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Neefe also helped young Ludwig to publish his first compositions.
In 1792 Beethoven moved to Vienna. There, he began studying with Franz Haydn, but the old composer was unimpressed by his stormy young pupil.
Beethoven soon enjoyed success as a pianist, playing at private houses or palaces rather than in public. As a pianist, he was reported, he had fire, brilliance and fantasy as well as depth of feeling. During this period Beethoven wrote his famous Pathetique and Moonlight sonatas.
Devoting himself more and more to composing, Beethoven made fewer appearances as a pianist. From 1801 his hearing grew steadily worse. Proud and independent, Beethoven did not want anybody to know about it. He withdrew into isolation and devoted himself to his work.
He was opening up what he called a "new path", a more expressive and dramatic musical language, richer in emotion and deeper in thought, than the other music of his time. During this period he wrote some of his most famous music: several symphonies, the opera Fidelia, the Appassionato Sonata, the Violin Concerto, and the Emperor Piano Concerto.
In his last years he was completely deaf. Several love affairs ended unhappily, and his at
tempt in later life to bring up and reform a nephew ended in failure.
During the last period, Beethoven's break with the past was sharper than ever.
There is a new sense of feeling in his Ninth Symphony and Missa Solemnis. His last string quartets suggest a profound mood of acceptance, a triumphal peace over his sufferings.


Last Updated (Thursday, 09 February 2012 13:28)