Ludvig van Beethoven is possibly the most well known classical composer that has ever lived or certainly one of. A genius!
He wrote nine symphonies, five piano concerto’s, thirty-two piano sonatas and many chamber works.
His ninth symphony is considered his most prestigious achievement. However many of us think of Für Elise as his most remembered piece. Why not take a look at our blog article on Who was Für Elise? Or try our free download of Für Elise Sheet Music.
Early Years & Family Life
Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in 1770. His grandfather became Kapellmeister (music director) in the choir of the archbishop-elector of Cologne. His son Johann followed him into the choir as a tenor. However, on the death of his grandfather, the family struggled financially and Johann turned to alcohol.
Beethoven was initially taught the violin and clavier by his father Johann who was known to be both strict, brutal and relentless in his attempt to replicate Mozart and promote Beethoven as a child prodigy. Beethoven performed his first concert aged seven (although his father stated in the poster that he was six!)
Around 1780 he left school to study music full-time with conductor and composer Christian Gottlobb Neefe. Beethoven wasn’t academic and in his own words “Music comes to me more readily than words.” At the age of fourteen, he became Neefe’s assistant as court organist enabling him to support his family at a time when his father’s alcoholism and voice were deteriorating. It was with Neefe that Beethoven published his first composition a set of piano variations Nine Variations on a March by Dressler in 18.
At the age of twenty-one Beethoven moved to Vienna where he studied composition with Haydn. In 1795 he performed his first public concert as a pianist in Vienna performing his own concerto; No.2, Opus 19 and another by Mozart. In addition to this, he published Three Trios for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Opus 1. He also toured during this period and his name became more widely known.
His first major orchestral work appeared in 1800 the ‘First Symphony’.
His works are categorised into three periods; early (1802 and before) middle/heroic (1802-1812); and late (1812-1827).
Beethoven started to go deaf aged just twenty-six. Initially, it didn’t cause him many problems. However, as time went on he had to withdraw from concerts which were a major source of income for him and he also disengaged socially.
Between 1803 and 1812 Beethoven produced the haunting Moonlight Sonata. Moonlight Sonata Sheet Music along with many other works.
In 1810 Beethoven completed Fur Elise, however it was not published until forty years after his death!
Quite incredibly some of his most important compositions were created during the last ten years of his life when deafness had almost claimed what remained of his hearing. He went totally deaf in 1819.
Beethoven died aged fifty-six of severe liver damage. It is estimated that over ten thousand people attended his funeral procession.
Further Reading & Musical Downloads
On music-scores.com we have over 220 arrangements of Beethoven’s compositions for you to download. Why not have a browse – sheet music Beethoven. For further information take a look at Wikipedia and Britannica.