All About Ludwig van Beethoven

Information on Beethoven, his life, his music and classical sheet music

Best 5 Beethoven Books on Amazon

1.Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris

2.Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

3.Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood

4.Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon

5.Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler

Classical Sheet Music Downloads at Virtual Sheet Music

Beethoven's Youth (1770-1792)

Begining to Learn. Beethoven's First Compositions

Neefe becomes aware not only of his student’s genius, but also of his minuses: lack of self-restraint, discipline and culture. In order to reach a certain level, Beethoven was supposed to thoroughly study the creations of the great composers before him. Thus, he starts with the study of Bach and Handel and continues with that of his contemporaries: Mozart, Haydn and Philipp-Emmanuel Bach.

Young Beethoven’s first known composition – variations for piano on a march theme by Dressler – long forgotten today – dates from 1782. His next work, which still holds a certain importance today, is made up of three sonatas for harpsichord and it was written in 1783 when Beethoven had not yet turned 13. The composition was dedicated to Max-Friederich – the old prince of Cologne. These kinds of dedications were not completely disinterested, since musicians often hoped to gain financial advantages from that. Nevertheless, the financial status of Beethoven’s family remained unaltered.

At the age of 14, the composer’s creation had improved, mostly influenced by Mozart, with various songs and compositions for piano, quartets, and even a concert for piano, out of which only parts remained. At the age of 16, Ludwig already had somewhat of a reputation in Bonn. He taught music lessons and held concerts at aristocratic residences, as well as at court. His fervent harpsichord improvisations held his audience in complete awe. Ludwig’s first compositions, sonatas, quartets, lieds, could easily be compared to the works of well-known German composers of that time. Every so often, they were proof of how the young composer attempted to create a new universe out of musical images.

Vienna for the First Time. Studying with Mozart

However, young Beethoven was no longer satisfied with what Bonn’s artistic life had to offer. Already an ardent Mozart fan, Beethoven decides to go to Vienna in 1787, in order to study with Mozart. There is little information on Beethoven’s first trip to Vienna. The date of his departure, as well as the length of his stay there, are virtually unknown. However, it is known that in 1787 Mozart found time to listen to him although at that time he was completely absorbed by the composition of Don Juan. The young composer brilliantly improvised on a theme suggested by Mozart, astonishing his entire audience. After having listened to him, Mozart said: "watch out for that boy. One day he will give the world something to talk about". Beethoven started taking lessons with Mozart.

The Family Problems

The news of his mother’s illness determines Beethoven to put on hold his newfound life in Vienna and to return to Bonn. After her death in 1787, Beethoven’s troubles become all the more stringent. He is frequently ill and Johann Beethoven’s behavior becomes intolerable, up to the point where Ludwig asks the prince to give him custody of his two younger siblings. It was decided that half of Johann’s salary of 200 talers was to be used for the raising of the two children. After taking his salary, Johann regularly gave half of it to his older son. For another five years, until his death, wretched Johann Beethoven was a disgrace to his family and the ridicule of the whole community.

These aspects of his life left deep scars in Beethoven’s existence. He nevertheless found comfort and support in the love of a Bonn family, the Breunings, to whom he always remained close. Sweet „Lorchen”, Eleonora von Breuning was two years younger than him. Beethoven was her music teacher, sharing with her the secrets of poetry. Eleonora was his childhood friend and, who knows if there was no romantic involvement between them. She later married doctor Franz Gerhard Wegeler, one of Beethoven’s closest friends. And up to the very end, the relationship between them remained under the auspices of friendship, as their sincere and compassionate letters show (alter treuer Freund, Guter lieber Wegeler)

Meeting Haydn. Vienna for the Second Time

Playing in Neefe’s orchestra, from 1788 until 1792 (when he moves to Vienna), was an excellent opportunity for him to practice and to become acquainted with the most popular operas of his time. His last years in Bonn meant an intense spiritual accomplishment for young Beethoven. He embraced the progressive ideas of his century, in poetry, drama and opera.

Another important aspect of this period is his admittance at the Bonn University on May 14th 1789. Also, during these years, he has the opportunity to meet old Joseph Haydn, who stops at Bonn twice on his way from Vienna to London and back. He commends one of Beethoven’s compositions from 1790 written at the death of Joseph II. Subsequently, Beethoven decides to go to Vienna to continue his studies with Germany’s greatest composer at that time

Best 5 Beethoven Books

  1. Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris; Eminent Lives (October 4, 2005).
  2. Beethoven by Maynard Solomon; 2nd Rev edition (September 1, 2001).
  3. Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood; W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (January 30, 2005).
  4. Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon; 1 edition (October 4, 2004).
  5. Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler; Dover Publications; n.e.of "Beethoven as I Knew Him: A Biography"edition (September 3, 1996).