History 106

Ludwig Van Beethoven was, with out a doubt, one of, if not the greatest musical geniuses that has ever lived. Music historians have written countless books about him as a composer and musician. This paper will not be based on Beethoven’s music, even though it will be mentioned from time to time. I give a brief history of his early life, the Vienna years, his nephew Karl years, Later, some of his beliefs and some of his works they affected.

Ludwig Van Beethoven was baptized on December 17, 1770 in the city of Bonn, Germany his parents were Johann Van Beethoven (1740-1792) and Maria Magdalene (1746-1787). His grandfather was Ludwig Van Beethoven (1712-1773) also of Bonn, Germany. His father and grandfather were both musicians at the court of the electorate of Cologne, which had its seat in Bonn. At the time of Beethoven’s birth, Bonn was a free city that fell under the wing of the Holy Roman Empire whose Emperor was Joseph II of Austria (1765-1790), the son of his co-regent Maria Theresa. (1:24)

Beethoven’s grandfather, Ludwig, was the Kapellmeister for the Elector of Cologne, a position that bore great responsibility, because he was in charge of all music that was to played at church services and public functions such as banquets, theatrical performances and ballets.

He was also in charge of discipline and hiring of musicians working for the Elector’s employ. Beethoven’s father had a career as a musician for the Elector. (1:30) Grandfather Beethoven was allegedly a very talented hard working man who was also well respected. There are many stories that Beethoven’s father had very little talent and was a terrible alcoholic. Although he did drink it is not believed that he “ did not really succumb to his vice, until Maria Magdalena died (at the age forty, of consumption). Then he lost his hold on life.” (1:35)

There were seven children born in Johann Beethoven’s family, sadly, only three survived Ludwig and his two brothers Casper Anton Carl (baptized April, 8 1774) and Nikolaus Johann (baptized October 2, 1776). These two brothers played a big part in Ludwig’s life. Showing the most musical talent of the three boys, Ludwig, beginning at the age of four, was forced to practice for hours on end every day. His first public appearance was at the age of eight years old “with his fathers pupils (a contralto) March, 26,1778.” Although he various music teachers Beethoven’s general education ended in elementary school at an early age. His friends said that he could not do any multiplication. I suppose that blows the old saying “ every great musician is a great mathematician ” out the window.

After studying under his father and other local musicians, Beethoven was hired by the new Elector of Cologne Franze Maximilian (brother of the Hasburg Emperor Joseph the II) to be an organist. This was a very important job in Ludwig’s career for it left him time to compose. In 1787 he left Bonn and traveled to Vienna where he met Wolfgang Mozart for the first time. His trip was ended abruptly when he heard his mother had taken ill in Bonn and he quickly returned home. His mother died soon after his return. Later “ in 1787 Beethoven petitioned the court and was given one half of his father’s salary to take care of his brothers”, because his father had began to neglect the family. (3:355) In 1792 Beethoven left Bonn again to study under Joseph Hayden from this point on Vienna would be his home.

Beethoven studied under Hayden for the period of one year. It was a strained relationship at times. I can find this believable because they were both men of high ability, natural talent, and genius. Ludwig was always a little suspicious of Hayden and believed that he did not give him his best teaching. In later years he disowned Hayden as his teacher. Despite of this fact, the two remained fairly good friends and respected each other’s work. Ludwig soon established himself as great pianist and composer and it could not have happened in a better place. “ As far as the arts were concerned, the Austrian aristocracy, based on Austrian capital, surpassed all other aristocracies in Europe in