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Beethoven Study Guide

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v Ludwig Van Beethoven was born in 1770 in the town of Bonn, Germany

v His was given the same name as his grandfather who was a court musician in Bonn

v His father, Johann, was not a talented musician and was a cruel first tutor for Ludwig

v Beethoven had 2 brothers

v Beethoven wrote his first music composition when he was just 12 years old.

v Christian Neefe was Beethoven’s first legitimate tutor and quickly recognized his talents. Neefe took Beethoven to Vienna when he was just 16 years old. Vienna was the music capital of Europe at the time. In 1787, Beethoven played for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart recognized Beethoven’s talents and knew he would be a great musician, and many in Vienna considered Beethoven to be the next “Mozart”. Beethoven and Mozart met only one time. Beethoven had to return to Bonn just a few weeks later after his mother, Maria, died.

v Beethoven remained in Bonn to care for his brothers. He took a job in the Bonn court orchestra. The only instrument position available was the viola. He taught himself to play it and got the job. The income allowed Beethoven to compose music in his spare time.

v Beethoven met his next tutor, Joseph Haydn who would help Beethoven to return to Vienna in 1792. Beethoven quickly became a celebrity.

v Beethoven had a terrible temper and mood swings. He considered himself a true celebrity and tried to convince everyone he was of noble birth because he had the word “Van” in his name.

v When Beethoven was in his late 20’s he began to lose his hearing. He wrote most of his most famous works while he was going deaf. Symphony number 9 was written when he was completely deaf.

v Beethoven admired Napoleon Bonaparte very much and dedicated his 3rd Symphony to him. When Napoleon declared himself Emperor of France, Beethoven was very angry and scratched up the original score to remove Napoleon’s name from it. Beethoven, however, did not destroy the music itself, he just renamed it.

v Beethoven fell in love many times, but never married. He fought his sister-in-law for custody of his nephew and won, although his nephew, Karl, hated him.

v As Beethoven lost more of his hearing he became more and more angry as well as reclusive. He would wander the streets of Vienna like a homeless man and then return to his apartment to compose music.

v Later in his life, Beethoven returned to the church and had a spiritual awakening.


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