BEETHOVEN

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Ludwig Van Beethoven Born to a drunkard father and an unhappy mother, the young Beethoven was subjected to a brutal training in music at the hands of his father, who hoped that the boy would prove to be another prodigy like Mozart. Failing in this, the young Beethoven nevertheless embraced music and studied for a short time in 1792 with Franz Joseph Haydn in Vienna. Hailed as a genius and a master of improvisation at the piano, Beethoven soon made a name for himself, and by 1794 was known throughout Europe. He faithfully learned the Classical Viennese styles and traditions in music, and then proceeded throughout his career to completely revolutionize them. His earliest compositions reflect the classical restraint of Haydn and Mozart, yet there were always flashes of what was to come. The emotion he displayed while playing his own music was unheard of in his day, and the fiery intensity of his early Piano Sonata in C minor, known as the "Pathetique" is one of the first works in which Beethoven gives vent to his own dramatic musical voice. By 1800, Beethoven had become aware of his advancing deafness -- surely a most horrible fate for a musician and unendurable to a composer. Agonizing over his fate, Beethoven contemplated suicide, but in the end embraced life, determined to go on composing, if no longer performing. Unhappy with his compositions up to that time and stating that he would now be "making a fresh start," Beethoven began composing music such as had never before been heard. His Symphony no. 3 in E-flat major, subtitle the "Eroica", was completed in 1804, and was almost twice as long as any symphony written up to that time. Taking the classical symphony as a starting point, it introduces more themes, more contrasts, more instruments, more weight and more drama than previously heard in the symphonic form. His sixteen string quartets span his creative life and developed from the classical restraint of the six "Early" quartets to the sublime late quartets which contain music of such personal pain and suffering, that one wonders if an audience was intended to hear them at all. The power of Beethoven's voice can be heard in the String Quartet no. 11 in F minor. Beethoven's musical ideas, the "themes" he used and from which he painstakingly constructed his works, were revolutionary for his day. The well-known opening motto theme of the famous Symphony no.

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