Ludwig van Beethoven – The Deaf Musician and his Ninth Symphony
Beethoven is one of the greatest composers of all time. His art rises to a new, romantic spirit, expressed in the works of Goethe and Schiller. He started his career as an incredible piano improviser, which greatly helped him to compose his sonatas, symphonies, guitar quartet concerts … He made the greatest contribution to the development of instrumental music, which was previously suppressed by vocal. His opus consists of the famous 9 symphonies, 16 quartets for string instruments, 32 piano sonata, one opera, 2 masses, 5 piano concerts, one violin concert, 6 piano trio, 10 sonata for violin and 5 for violoncello and a number of concert overtire.
“Music is a greater revelation than any philosophy and wisdom.” (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, in a musical family. He was baptized on December 17, 1770, and as it was customary for children to baptize the day after his birth, it was long assumed that he was born on December 16th, but modern research has rejected this assumption, although they did not offer an alternative. At the age of 11, he had to leave the school, and at the age of 18, after the death of his mother, he became the head of the family and assumed responsibility for his two younger brothers.
Beethoven’s father, Johann, otherwise a musician at Bonn’s election assembly and an incurable alcoholic who was often violent, wanted his son to be a c prodigy, the new Mozart, but he failed. Interestingly, when I mention Mozart, in 1787, Beethoven spent two months in Vienna, learning precisely with this great composer. This is a rare case in the history that the two geniuses in the same creative field meet and cooperate. Unfortunately, Beethoven’s mother died and he had to leave Vienna and return home, but it was noted that Mozart was fascinated by his power of improvisation and allegedly said: “This young man will become a great world name.”
The first true Beethoven teacher was Christian Gottlob Nef, a court organ in Bonn, thanks to which Ludwig wrote his first composition in 1783. One year earlier, Beethoven became Nef’s assistant at the court. During this period, Beethoven began giving private lessons to rich pupils, thus gaining significant acquaintances that will help him later in life.
In 1790, Joseph Haydn traveled through Bonn on his way to London and attended the festivities where he was introduced to Beethoven, and impressed with him, Haydn offered to teach him when he came back from London. Beethoven accepted Haydn’s offer in the autumn of 1792, while the armies of the French Revolution broke through and in the Rhine Province, Beethoven left Bonn, joined Haydn in Vienna and never returned again. The compositions composed in Bonn – excluding those that were started in Bonn and completed in Vienna – are the most interesting to the researchers and experts.
Like other composers of that time, Beethoven was under the influence of the then popular and folk music. Dance rhythms from the area of Rhine can be found in many of his compositions, but also elements from Italian, French, Slovene, even Celtic folk music. But in Beethoven’s music, the ideals that were drawn from books, especially Goethe and Schiller.
Before Beethoven left Bonn, he gained a very important reputation in Northwestern Germany as a virtuoso on the piano, with a special talent for performing without preparation. Mozart was one of the best improvisers of his time; but according to all reports, Beethoven overcame him. His pianist technique was revolutionary. He expressed the melodies with incredible strength in fast and powerful music streams. In the era of feeling, he brought the audience to tears much easier than all other performers.
“Music should come from a fiery male heart and trigger tears in the female eyes.” (Beethoven)
In Vienna in the 1790s, music became more and more popular with aristocracy, due to the policy of Emperor Francis II who did not show any inclination to any other art. Probably at any other time and in any other city there were no such high standards for amateur composers and semi-professionals, as in Vienna in Beethoven’s time.
As a composer, Beethoven still had problems and realized that Haydn was not the right person to fully help him, so he went secretly to classes with another composer. Interestingly, in this period, he studied vocal compositions with Antonio Salieri.
In 1795, Beethoven publicly performed as a pianist in Vienna for the first time. The end of the century marks the end of his first creative period, in which his art remained within the bounds of the technique and ideas of the 18th century.
He composed the first symphony before 1800, but his life did not change much: he played in the homes of the nobility, competed with other pianists and played concerts with guests virtuosos. The change in the direction in the creative expression occurred with Beethoven’s slow-moving hearing loss. And maybe we could wonder if his progress would have been without this disease, and hence, was this disease inevitable in his life, because without it, he would not have been able to approach his creativity differently? Without going into the philosophical debate about determination, I think it is enough to just say that once again a personal tragedy in the life of an artist has made progress in his expression. Probably, therefore, a heartfelt opinion that suffering is closely related to art, and that the great artistic genius, the beauties of the world, paid their gifts very costly. By 1802, Beethoven tried to stave off his illness, but at that time he had to admit that he was becoming permanent and progressive.
He came into temptation to kill himself: “But the only thing that kept me art was, because, ah, it seemed impossible for me to leave this world before I write everything I feel I can.”
He completely lost his hearing in 1819, so he had to use conversation books for communication with others.
On the basis of the notes he made, the experts discovered his methods of work. He worked on more work at the same time and did not hurry to do anything immediately, but when the work was over, he never returned to the process again. From his notes it is quite clear that in his mind, the idea of rhythm first appeared, and then only the melodies. In 1804, Beethoven completed the Third Symphony, which in many biographies represents a milestone in his career.
Interestingly, during his career Beethoven has never faced the problem of poverty. But, due to his serious illness, and because of his innate habit of insulting other people, his relationship with the musicians in Vienna, whose co-operativity depended, it was getting worse for him and in 1808, at a charity concert, when they were performed for the first time Fifth and Sixth Symphony, there was such a strong conflict that Beethoven thought of leaving Vienna forever. However, Archduke Rudolf, Prince Lobkowicz and Prince Kinsky joined the funds and provided him with an annual salary of 4,000 florins, so he can remain in Vienna and compose. This is the first case in the history that a professional musician lived only from his own work, that is, that he did not have to work for the church or the court.
Beethoven was not lucky in love. He was unlucky in love several times and never married. Among the papers found after his death, there was a letter to the “Immortal beloved” that he did not send. Not even today, it is unknown to whom it was intended.
In 1812, Beethoven met with Goethe, whose literature he worshiped, but none of them had any good impressions from this encounter. “Goethe adores the court atmosphere,” Beethoven said. – “So much that he became a poet …” On the other hand, Goethe thought that Beethoven’s does not even contribute to his own and other people’s pleasure “.
In 1815, Beethhoven’s brother died, and he takes custody of his nine-year-old son, Karl. Interestingly, Beethoven behaved towards Karl as his father behaved toward him, with the exception that he never beat his warden. But Beethoven wanted Karl to make a top pianist forcefully, although he did not show any preference for music. Therefore, they not only never agreed, but their relationship was always full of tension. In 1826, just before graduation, Karl tried to commit suicide. He recovered at the hospital and Beethoven, on a friend’s call, allowed the young man to dedicate himself to a military career.
In 1824, he completed the “Ninth Symphony” on which he worked since 1817, although he was completely deaf. Beethoven conducted the first performance and was not aware of the applause until he turned to the audience.
On March 26, Ludwig van Beethoven died of lung inflammation.
“Friends applaud, comedy is over”. (Beethoven’s words at death)