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 Rise to fame (1792-1805)

Beethoven's First Academy

On April 2nd 1800, Beethoven's first "Academy" took place. The great "Academy" of a virtuoso or of a famous musical performer was different from ordinary concerts. In those times, an "Academy", which also had outside performers, started with a great composition for orchestra. If the " Academy " was organized by a pianist, the most part of the concert was made up of improvisations. If the person who held the concert was also a composer (it’s known that the vast majority of pianists also wrote music), then the most part of the concert was made up of original compositions. "Academies" were never shorter than four hours, usually beginning at 6:30 in the evening and ending at 10:30. If it happened that a great aristocrat liked the artist, he often bought most tickets, offering him money and precious gifts.

The press was more than benevolent towards Beethoven’s “Academy”. However, Symphony No. 1 raised several critiques. The chronicler of Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of Leipzig wrote: "The Symphony stands apart through its virtuosity, novelty and abundance of ideas; however, there are too many wind instruments, so the overall impression is that of wind music, rather than the sonority of a great symphonic orchestra."

The First Signs of Deafness. The Heiligenstadt Testament

In the years that followed Beethoven became the teacher of several students, such as Ferdinand Ries, Carl Czerny or Dorothea Ertmann, one of Germany’s best pianists. Although successes came one after another, a very serious problem was making his life difficult. On June 1st 1801 he wrote his friend Karl Amenda: " You are not one of my Viennese friends. No, you are one of those friends who are born in the land of my country. How often I wish you were here with me. Your Beethoven is most wretched. The noblest part of my existence, my sense of hearing, is very weak. I felt the symptoms even at the time when we were living together, but I had kept this from you then. And now it’s only getting worse. Will I ever be cured? All I have is faith, although I have doubts, because these illnesses are, more often than not, incurable…" although he went to several doctors and underwent various treatments, Beethoven’s illness became so serious, that starting with 1814-1816 he resorted to conversation notebooks.

Undoubtedly, Beethoven felt most wretched because of his illness, especially during the first years. The highest degree of despair is probably best rendered in his famous Heiligenstadt Testament, found among the composer’s documents, after his death. It was written in October 1802 in a country house in the Heiligenstadt village, not far from Vienna, where Beethoven stayed in complete solitude for half a year (from the spring of 1802 until the fall of the same year) following doctor Schmidt’s recommendation.

The Musical Master

By the age of 35, Beethoven had become a prominent cultural personality in Germany. His piano concerts were performed all over Europe, the press no longer criticized him, if only so cautiously, and his admirers ardently promoted his work. Even though he became practically deaf, his work did not seem to suffer at all. Between 1806 and 1809 alone, he composed three symphonies, four concerts, an overture, several sonatas and many other works. But the amazing image of Beethoven’s creative activity came in striking contrast to his personal life. He was confronted with loneliness, personal discontent, financial troubles, ineffectiveness in the household and many other small and pressing matters of his everyday life. Due to his financial troubles, overwhelmed by distrust, he was often on the verge of accusing innocent people of deceit.

As to his daily program, Beethoven rigorously divided his time. He woke up very early in the morning and worked until noon – better said, he wrote down what he had composed the evening before. The rest of the time, he spent meditating and putting his ideas in order, which he best did when walking alone at a rapid pace. His deafness became more and more severe. In the summer of 1807 he started having health problems accompanied by excruciating headaches.

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).