Ludwig Van Beethoven Essay

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The composer of some of the most influential pieces of music ever

written, Ludwig van Beethoven created a bridge between the 18th-century

classical period and the new beginnings of Romanticism. His greatest

breakthroughs in composition came in his instrumental work, including

his symphonies. Unlike his predecessor Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, for whom

writing music seemed to come easily, Beethoven always struggled to

perfect his work.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, and was baptized on

Dec. 17, 1770. (There is no record of his birth date.) His father and

grandfather worked as court musicians in Bonn. Ludwig's father, a

singer, gave him his early musical training. Although he had only meager
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By 1802

Beethoven was convinced that the condition not only was permanent, but

was getting progressively worse. He spent that summer in the country and

wrote what has become known as the "Heiligenstadt Testament." In the

document, apparently intended for his two brothers, Beethoven expressed

his humiliation and despair. For the rest of his life he searched for a

cure, but by 1819 his deafness had become total. Afterward, in order to

have conversations with his friends, Beethoven had them write down their

questions and replied orally.

Beethoven never married. Though he had many friends, he seemed to be

a lonely man. He continued to appear in public but spent more and more

of his time working on his compositions. He lived in various villages

near Vienna and took long walks carrying sketchbooks in which he would

write down his musical ideas. Scholars who have studied these

sketchbooks have discovered the agonizingly long process that the

composer went through in order to perfect his melodies, harmonies, and


Three Periods of Work

Most critics divide Beethoven's work into three general periods,

omitting the earliest years of his apprenticeship in Bonn. Although some

pieces do not fit exactly into the scheme, these divisions can be used

to categorize the composer's work.

The first period, from 1794 to about 1800, consists of music whose

most salient

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