Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ludwig van Beethoven: Storm and Stress, Part 2

In our first post on Ludwig van Beethoven, we looked at his beginnings in music. He was first taught music by his father and performed regularly, then got the opportunity to study under and work for Christian Neefe. 

Rise to Fame

After the death of his mother, Beethoven's father Johann turned to alcohol to find comfort in his sadness over his wife’s death. So eighteen-year-old Ludwig not only had to deal with his mother’s death and his father’s drinking problems, but he also took charge of his two younger brothers. As a result, Ludwig stayed in Bonn for the next five years, playing the viola in the court orchestra to earn money to support himself and his brothers.
          A few years pass and in March 1792, at the age of 22 Ludwig left for Vienna to study and work on his counterpoint under Franz Josef Haydn and a few other teachers. It was around this time that he composed the Piano Trios. Soon after he arrived, he heard that his father had died. It was at this time that Ludwig started becoming popular and making a name for himself in Vienna over the next few years by improvising music for parties he was hired to play, performing many Bach pieces which he had memorized. During this time, Ludwig wrote pieces of music in the Classical style, like Mozart and Haydn. Soon, not only was Beethoven becoming popular for his extraordinary performance skills, but he was also slowly becoming famous for his compositions. Many rich and famous people paid him money for his musical work, even though he was known around Vienna as a rude and short-tempered man with a disdain for authority and high rank. He stopped playing if the audience whispered among themselves or made any noise and refused to perform if someone asked him to play without giving him previous warning. However, his rude behavior was always overlooked because of his great talent and passion.

Guest author: Rachel Holbrook

Come back next week for Part 3!

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