Who is Beethoven and What Made Him One of the Greatest Composers of All Time?

Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler

“They are not for you, but for a later age,” said one of the greatest composers of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven. And as though composing for some ideal future audience, Beethoven was to shake the world of music until this very day. Beethoven was born in 1770, in the city of Bonn, in old Germany. Sources on Beethoven indicated that he showed great talent and prospects at an early age. In 1783, Beethoven published his first musical works.

As a young man, Beethoven visited Vienna which at the time was the music capital of the world. In Vienna, Beethoven was introduced to Mozart and in 1792; he studied under Haydn, a leading Viennese composer. Beethoven showed immense virtuosity as a pianist and soon became successful as a performer, teacher, and composer.

However, in his late twenties, the first signs of his deafness appeared and Beethoven was about to face the most challenging period of his life. For a while, he even contemplated suicide. The year 1802 to 1815 is sometimes considered the middle period of Beethoven’s career. During this period, Beethoven’s deafness steadily progressed and he began to stop performing music in public.

It is one of the greatest ironies in the world that one of the most talented composers of all time should be cruelly afflicted with deafness. But this soon came to pass in Beethoven’s late forties when he became completely deaf. Yet even more ironic is that some of Beethoven’s greatest works like the Appassionata and the Weldstein Sonata were composed after Beethoven gradually began losing his hearing.

Furthermore, Beethoven began to paying less and less attention to what was popular with musical audience of his day and began composing primarily for himself and what he thought would stand out in the future. The works that he produced in his last days of his life while in total deafness not only outclassed his earlier works but are considered to this very day as some of the greatest masterpieces in the history of music.

In 1827, Beethoven died in Vienna at age fifty-seven. At the time of his death, Beethoven had composed a large volume of work including nine symphonies, thirty-two piano sonatas, five piano concertos, ten sonatas for the piano and violin, a series of magnificent string quartets, vocal music, theater music, and much more.

In addition to that, Beethoven introduced many changes in music with a lasting effect. He expanded to size of the orchestra and extended the length of the symphony. Another contribution he made was to put on the pedestal the enormous potential and versatility of the piano as a musical instrument. With the existence and contributions of Beethoven, instrumental music gained a new level of importance as the very highest form of art.

Beethoven is often seen as the figure that marks the transition of classical to the romantic style of music. He was said to have a great deal of influence on later day composers like Brahms, Wagner, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky.

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