Born in Bonn in 1770 and died in Vienna 1827, Beethoven can be termed as the man who set music free. In fact he radically transformed every musical form in which he worked. His paternal family was of Flemish origin, his grandfather having emigrated to Bonn where he became court singer to the Elector. Beethoven's father also became Court Singer, but was a coarse, drunken man, hopeful of exploiting Ludwig's musical talents. In 1779, Ludwig became the pupil of Christian Gottleb Neefe and his assistant as court organist in 1784. In 1786, he visited Vienna. On return to Bonn, he found an understanding patron in Count Waldstein. For 4 years he was a violist in the court theatre orchestra in addition to other duties. In 1792, Haydn, visiting Bonn, saw some of Beethoven's early compositions and invited him to study with him in Vienna. There, inspite of his brusque and often uncouth manners, he was patronized by the aristocracy and lived for 2 years(1794 - 6) in the house of Prince Lichnovsky. His fame was entirely that of a virtuoso improvisor at the keyboard.
Beethoven's music may have sometimes been misunderstood in his lifetime, but it was never neglected. However, his personal eccentricities and unpredictability were to grow, principally because of his discovery in 1798 that he was going deaf. It was not until 1819 that conversation with him was possible only by writing in a notebook, but in the intervening 20 years, his affliction, though it varied in intensity,steadily worsened.
Beethoven's significance in the history of music and development of music is immense. He emancipated and democratized the art, composing out of spirtual inner necessity rather than as provider of virtuoso display material. It is to Beethoven that we owe the full emergence of the symphony as a repository for a composer's most important ideas. It is probably true to say that today his music is the most frequently performed of any composer's.
He wrote 9 symphonies, piano concertos, piano sonatas, chamber music, orchestral works, choral works, several songs for solo voice and 1 opera.
Fidelio (1805, rev 1806 and 1814)
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