Alice April Academy Blog 2017 Post #5
This week (February 6-10, 2017) is dedicated to Ludwig Van Beethoven
“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”
Take a look at these few documentaries about Beethoven to learn more about his life and music :
Enjoy listening to Beethoven – HERE
Here’s the story of Beethoven 👇
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa solemnis, and one opera, Fidelio.
Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven displayed his musical talents at an early age and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and by composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe. At the age of 21 he moved to Vienna, where he began studying composition with Joseph Haydn, and gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. He lived in Vienna until his death. By his late 20s his hearing began to deteriorate, and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf. In 1811 he gave up conducting and performing in public but continued to compose; many of his most admired works come from these last 15 years of his life.
Here’s a few interesting facts about Beethoven 👇
• Among his friends, Beethoven was a notorious spacecadet. Once, while speaking to family friend Cacilie, she noticed him zoning out. When she demanded a reply to what she’d said, his answer was, “I was just occupied with such a lovely, deep thought, I couldn’t bear to be disturbed.”
• Having left school at age 11 to help with household income, Beethoven never learned how to multiply or divide. To his last day if he had to multiply, say, 60 x 52, he’d lay out 60 52 times over and add them up.
• Beethoven’s father noticed early on the boy’s penchant for playing. He set his sights on creating a prodigy as Mozart was just years before, and Johann beat music into Ludwig, forcing him to practice day and night to reach the same level of genius. Neighbors of Beethoven remembered the small boy standing on a bench to reach the keyboard, crying, his father looming over him.
• Beethoven was actually the third Ludwig van Beethoven in his family. The first was his grandfather, a noted musician in Bonn, and the second was Beethoven’s older brother, who passed six days after his birth.
• On his first visit to Vienna, 17-year-old Beethoven was scheduled to perform for Mozart. The latter was generally unimpressed with other musicians, having been so far ahead of his peers in talent and accomplishments. No one really knows what happened in that fateful meeting, but myth has it that Mozart walked out of the room saying, “Keep your eyes on him—someday he’ll give the world something to talk about.”
• Beethoven often dipped his head in cold water before composing!
• Beethoven loved cooking, so much so that he named one of his pieces “Christ! On the Mount of Olives”
• He was jealous that Rimsky-Korsakov wrote an opera called “Mozart and Salieri” instead of “Mozart and Beethoven”
• He designed one of his piano sonatas to be played with building implements and called it the “Hammer-Klavier Sonata”
• Beethoven was known for his improvising (before he lost his hearing). One contemporary of his, composer Johann Baptist Cramer, told his students that if you haven’t heard Beethoven improvise, you haven’t heard improvisation.
• After moving to Vienna in his early 20s, Beethoven took lessons from Joseph Haydn, father of the symphony. As per Beethoven’s habit with teachers, the two often got frustrated and ultimately didn’t like each other very much.
• When Beethoven had been composing for some years, the piano began to come into its own. Whereas his predecessors had composed for harpsichord, Beethoven decided he would focus his efforts on the instrument no one had yet written comprehensive work for.
• He wrote another of his sonatas entirely at night and so called it the “Moonlight Sonata”
• Beethoven’s father was an alcoholic and emotionally abusive to Beethoven when Beethoven was growing up;
• Beethoven’s height was 5′ 3″
• Beethoven had unusually bad skin;
• Beethoven was very temperamental and would end performances if he became aware of anyone in the audience talking;
• Despite his acclaim, Beethoven always had to work hard to ensure a comfortable living by giving piano lessons, writing work commissioned by wealthy Viennese residents, and, of course, publishing his own music.
• Beethoven had varying luck with women. Some admired him for his genius while others found him repulsive. A woman he courted once called him “ugly and half crazy.”
• Beethoven was a sick kid to his dying day. Throughout his life he would suffer from deafness, colitis, rheumatism, rheumatic fever, typhus, skin disorders, abscesses, a variety of infections, ophthalmia, inflammatory degeneration of the arteries, jaundice, chronic hepatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver.
• Though he attributed the beginning of his deafness to an instance in which he was startled and fell, the foundation would have probably been a disease he had suffered from as a child like typhus, smallpox, etc. He began to hear constant buzzing at age 27.
• The Moonlight Sonata was a hit from the start, dedicated to Beethoven’s pupil and love interest Julie Guicciardi.
• When Beethoven’s brother died, Beethoven bribed officials to obtain custody of his brother’s son, thus taking his nephew away from his brother’s wife;
• Beethoven hated giving piano lessons unless they were for exceptionally talented students or attractive young women of whatever talent.
• He was instrumental in setting the tone of critiques of his work in the leading music journal of the day, AMZ, telling the editor to back off with negative comments if he wanted to receive copies of the musician’s work.
• His Symphony no. 3, called Eroica, was dedicated to Napoleon (before he’d disappointed Beethoven and crowned himself absolute monarch, as opposed to being a symbol of revolution and new era in Europe) and written at a time when Beethoven considered moving to Paris. The move never happened, but the symphony would be a defining artistic work of the German enlightenment.
• One of the major inspirations of Beethoven’s famed Ninth Symphony was poet Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy,” which he’d been meaning to put to music since his youth.
• Beethoven’s deafness was the result of lead poisoning, and lead poisoning was also the cause of Beethoven’s death.
• He died during a thunderstorm at age 56, his friend comparing the occasion to the composer’s symphonies with “crashes that sound like hammering on the portals of Fate.”