The rise of Ludwig van Beethoven into the rank of history’s greatest composers was paralleled by and in some ways a consequence of his own personal tragedy and despair (Internet–pg. 1).
Beethoven’s family was of the Flemish origin. His mother, Maria Magdalena, died after a long illness when Beethoven was only 17. He was not the only child in this family though. He had 2 brothers and 1 sister, both to which were disorganized and unruly. His family was always in constant need of funds. (The World–1963)
Beethoven showed his extraordinary musical talent at an early age. His father hoped he could induce his child’s development and make him more like Mozart, and possibly bring in some money for the family which was desperately in need. (The World-1963)
As a child, Beethoven never was too interested in music even though he had the talents. Both his father and grandfather were experienced musicians and wanted him to be one also. At the age of four, Beethoven’s father began to teach him the violin and piano, but wasn’t successful in doing so because of his addiction to alcohol. His training was soon taken
over by his father’s friend, Pfeiffer, but also, because of alcoholism, his lessons were just as irregular as before. Later, his grandfather’s friend taught him until he resigned in 1781 and Beethoven’s tuition was taken over by Van der Eeden’s successor, Christian Neefe. This man was not only a good teacher, but also a friend.
(The World-1963; Sally Patton-pg.73)
Beethoven’s first composition was published in 1783. Then, in 1784 he attained his first independent position of a court organist and violinist, and in 1787 he was sent to Vienna to study. Here, he had the opportunity to play for Mozart who liked the work of Beethoven and told his friends “Watch that young man.” (Sally Patton-pg.73).
Beethoven studied with a man by the name of Joseph Haydn, but it didn’t work for very long because they couldn’t get along. He began to study with other teachers and soon became very popular in Vienna. Some were pleased with his performances, but others were embarrassed by his arrogance and bad manners. (Sally Patton-pg.73-74)
In the late 1790’s, Beethoven discovered an increasing buzzing and humming in his ears and it sent him into panic, searching for a cure. In 1802, he wrote a letter to his brother describing his anguish. He asked his brother to read the letter at the funeral. His suffering had a brief respite when he soon fell in love with a young countess, and dedicated a song to her called “Moonlight Sonata”. Even after this, she did not marry Beethoven. (Sally Patton-pg.75)
By October 1802, he had written the Heiligenstadt Testament confessing his deafness, and suicidal considerations. (Internet-pg.5)
By about 1800, Beethoven was mastering the Viennese High-Classic style. Although Mozart had first perfected the style, Beethoven did extend it to some degree. Having displayed a wide range of his piano writing, he was also beginning to forge a new voice for the violin.
Beethoven’s deafness landed him into a major cycle of depression. In his Testament, he reveals his malaise that was sending him to the edge of despair. He speaks of suicide in the same breath as a reluctance to die. Having searched vainly for a cure, he seems to have lost all hope. For example, it was written-“As the leaves of Autumn fall and are withered-so likewise has my hope been blighted-I leave here-almost as I came-even the high courage-which often inspired me in the beautiful days of summer-has disappeared.” (Internet-pg.9)
There is somewhat of a parallel between Beethoven’s personal and professional life. He is at a dead end on both cases and there seems to be no more than he can do with the High-Classic style. (Internet-pg.13)
It seems undeniable that the Heilinginstadt Testament in which Beethoven came to terms with and put to rest the incurable tragedy of his deafness, also set forth a determination to prove his skills before death overcome him. (Internet-pg.13)
Beethoven’s career seemed to have come to an end in 1802. Despite the looming impossibility of recovery, his ambition to fully realize his musical talent set him to establish a new milestone in musical history-the creation of the heroic style. When you think about it, you can see how the heroism of Beethoven’s music reflected his own struggles with fate and his own triumphs. (Internet-pg.13)
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