Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 in Bonn, nearby the French border. His father and grandfather were court musicians. Little Ludwig discovered his musical abilities early and his father began lessons with him when he was five, hoping to bring up his son to be, like Mozart, a child prodigy and get out of this financial benefit. Classes were disorderly. Beethoven's father was often rude, cruel, overly demanding. He forced the boy to spend hours playing the same exercise. Sometimes, coming home late at night drunk, he woke his son and made him play.
Ludwig's mother was kind and affectionate, but she could not properly affect the father. Thus, Beethoven's childhood was difficult and depressing. Since eight years, Beethoven began performing at concerts. He played different instruments, tried to write music and was improvising well. Systematic education, regular classes began only when he was eleven years old, when Ludwig had already worked at the court as an assistant to court organist - a musician who accompanies a church service playing the organ. Organist was a talented composer Neefe, cultural musician who was proficient in the technique of music writing, knew the musical literature (“A Brief History of Beethoven” 2). Neefe was very fond of his pupil, and was for him not only a great teacher, but also a mentor and friend. It was Neefe who advised and helped Beethoven in 1787 to go to Vienna for lessons with Mozart.
Mozart, who got bored by visits of many geeks, met Beethoven not particularly warmly. When he heard how a young man of seventeen improvised with a theme, a brilliant composer turned to his friends who were in the next room and said: "Pay attention to this young man - in the future, the world will speak for him." Beethoven could not work with Mozart, as he was soon forced to go back to Bonn to his sick mother. He could not get back soon to Vienna, because his mother died and he was forced to take care of the family. His father was a sick man, unable to feed his family, and two brothers were still young.
Despite the necessity to care about younger brothers and financial difficulties, Beethoven at this time worked much, adding to his general and musical education. For a while, he attended lectures in philosophy at the University and quickly imbued with progressive ideas of the time associated with the French Revolution of 1789, got familiarized with the democratic ideas of the French Enlightenment, which laid the foundation of Beethoven’s republican views, thoughts about social justice, about free person on fight against tyranny.
In 1792, after his father's death, Beethoven went back to Vienna, where he gained fame and popularity as a brilliant performer and improviser. He became a music teacher in some homes of Viennese nobles, and it gave him the means to live.
Beethoven had strongly developed sense of self-worth, he felt acutely and painfully humiliating position as court musician, and was often harsh towards people who insulted him with their swagger. He often stressed that having talent is much more important and honorable than to have noble origins. These views of the social position of musician elaborated in Beethoven were influenced by progressive ideas of the time.
During these years, Beethoven wrote a lot, showing in his work already full maturity. Some of the piano sonatas of this period are especially valuable, including #8 – “Pathetique”, #12 - Sonata with the funeral march, #14 - "Moonlight", the first 2 symphonies and first quartets (Darrach 13).
Welfare of Beethoven soon was disturbed by severe disease. From the age of 26, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. Treatment did not give relief and in 1802 Beethoven starts thinking about suicide. But the high calling of musician-artist, love of art, which should sparkle fire from manly soul and through which he could appeal to the millions made Beethoven overcome his feelings of despair.
Further period until 1814 was the most productive in the works of Beethoven. During this period he wrote most significant works, including almost all the symphonies, beginning with the third, Eroica, writes overtures Egmont, Coriolanus, opera Fidelio, many sonatas, including Sonata Appassionata. After the Napoleonic wars, lives across Europe were changing. There comes a period of political reaction. These events, added to serious personal experiences - brother's death and illness led Beethoven to severe mental condition. During this time he wrote very little.
In 1818, Beethoven felt better and gave rise to a new work by writing a number of major works, among which a special place is given to the ninth symphony with the chorus, Solemn Mass and the last quartets and piano sonatas. Three years before Beethoven's death his friends organized a concert of his works, where the 9th Symphony was performed and excerpts from the Solemn Mass. The success was huge, but Beethoven did not hear applause and enthusiastic shouts of the public (Smith 90). When one of the singers turned his face to the public, he saw overall admiration of listeners and fainted from excitement. While Beethoven was already completely deaf. Already in 1815 during a conversation he resorted to records.
The last years of Beethoven's life was a period of more oppressive political reaction that appeared most strongly in Vienna. Beethoven often openly expressed his republican and democratic views, the state of his indignation, for which he was often threatened with arrest. The health Beethoven worsened. In March 1827 Beethoven died.
“A Brief History of Beethoven.” ITS. California Institute of Technology, n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2013.
Darrach, Brad. Ludwig Van Beethoven (Great men of music). New York: Time-Life Records, 1978. Print.
Smith, Peter H. "Tonal Pairing and Monotonality in Instrumental Forms of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms." Music Theory Spectrum 35.1 (2013): 77-102.