17 October 2014
Ludwig van Beethoven
Born in the city of Bonn, Germany, in mid-December of 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven was from birth within a prestigious musical family. While Bonn was not Vienna or a major capital of the arts, it had stature all its own and the Beethovens had a history in enhancing it. Ludwig 's grandfather, Lodewijk van Beethoven rose to the high rank of Kapellmeister, or musical director, of the court. His son Johann married Maria Magdalena Keverich and, of the seven children borne by her, only three survived beyond infancy, with Ludwig as the eldest. Three elements seem to most powerfully impact on Beethoven 's early years. The first is that his father was his instructor in music, and in a way different from traditions holding that he ruthlessly drilled the boy in learning. All the evidence indicates, in fact, that Johann 's ambitions for his talented son did not extend beyond a future career in Bonn (Jones, 1998, p. 4). The second factor is that of Mozart, or the fame of Mozart at the time. The boy was legendary throughout Europe as Beethoven was growing, and this goes to Johann 's instruction of his son; that is, while Mozart 's father insisted on the boy 's traveling throughout the continent, and displaying and developing his genius, Beethoven virtually never left Bonn and gained his experience of music within the environment. The third element is that of Christian Gottlob Neefe, the most important teacher in Beethoven 's early life and arguably the man with the most profound impact on the boy 's emerging gifts and sensibilities. In addition to being a superb teacher, Neefe was as well involved in the artistic and social movements sweeping the cont...
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...mposer who is just as much a storyteller, and of the epic variety. In these two major works alone, Beethoven brings music to a linguistic level, telling massive stories of elemental powers colliding. His motifs literally speak to the listeners in a way no other classical composer 's music does. In short, then, Beethoven 's lasting impact or legacy resides in how his work so goes to visceral feeling, it transcends the typical boundaries of classical music. No other composer, in my opinion, better translates raw force and human feeling into exquisite musical compositions.
Comini, A. (2008). The Changing Image of Beethoven: A Study in Mythmaking. Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone Press.
Lockwood, L. (2005). Beethoven: The Music and the Life. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co.
Jones, D. W. (1998). The Life of Beethoven. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
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