Ludwig van Beethoven elevated the scope, reception and status of instrumental music. His revolutionary musical thoughts and compositions marked the change from what historians consider the Classical style to the Romantic. Beethoven was the first successful independent composer in Western musical history. He composed some of his greatest works after becoming deaf.Continue Reading
Ludwig van Beethoven showed great musical potential from early childhood. His father was overbearing, abusive and an alcoholic. After his father's death, Beethoven supported his family as a musician. When his ill mother died, Beethoven was sent into a deep depression for several years. He suffered many such bouts of depression throughout his lifetime.
At 19 years old, Beethoven composed a memorial for the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, who recently died. Beethoven's work was a resounding success and marked his emergence as a serious, gifted composer. Around the late 1790s, Beethoven rapidly lost his hearing. This realization affected him profoundly, sending him into fits of melancholy.
In Vienna, he progressed exponentially, especially after his "Symphony No. 3," later renamed "Eroica Symphony," which was described at the time as a work of complete originality. It marked the start of his Middle Period, in which Beethoven would depart from musical norms technically and societally, starting a revolution in Classical music. The majority of Beethoven's musical output, including Symphonies No. 3 through No. 8, the ever-popular "Moonlight Sonata" and "Fidelio," his opera, were released during this time.
Beethoven's physical and psychological states lessened the amount of work he was able to produce during his later years, though he released some of his best works during this period, such as "Missa Solemnis" and "String Quartet No. 14." Perhaps his greatest musical achievement, Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony," a symphony for all humanity, was finished in 1824, three years before he died.Learn more about Modern Europe