All About Ludwig van Beethoven

Information on Beethoven, his life, his music and classical sheet music

Best 5 Beethoven Books on Amazon

1.Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris

2.Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

3.Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood

4.Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon

5.Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler

Classical Sheet Music Downloads at Virtual Sheet Music

Beethoven's Rise to fame (1792-1805)

The First Years in Vienna. Studying with Haydn

After leaving Bonn on the 2nd or 3rd of November, Beethoven reaches Vienna on November 10th, ready to set a new life for himself. It takes him around three months (until the end of December) to settle all the arrangements (accommodation, his piano, the arrangements with Haydn). Beethoven’s lessons with Haydn lasted for over a year, and were finished once the latter left for London. Anyway, it seems that although their relationship started out as affectionate, the lack of time and Haydn’s age combined with Beethoven's temper diminished the quality of their lessons.

In his first years in Vienna, Beethoven manages to make his name known in the musical circles. He frequently holds concerts for the nobility of the time. He had somewhat closer relations to Prince Karl Lichowsky and a certain van Swieten.After finishing his lessons with Haydn, the composer starts to study with Johann Schenk, Alois Forster, Johann-Georg Albrechtsberger and Antonio Salieri with whom he was friends. So, one can safely say that Beethoven was the student of Vienna’s greatest pedagogues at that time.

Learning From the Best

Mozart and Haydn, his greatest predecessors, served as a paradigm of creative work in the new direction of Classicism. Albrechtsberger thoroughly taught him the art of counterpoint, which brought Beethoven his glory. Salieri taught the young composer the artistic matters of the bourgeois musical tragedy. Alois Forster taught him the art of composition with quartets. In other words, the genius musician voraciously absorbed not only the progressive music of his time, but also the richest creative experience of the most erudite contemporary composers. The musical knowledge he acquired and interpreted, together with an unmatched capacity to constantly work, makes Beethoven one of the most knowledgeable composers of his time.

Money Issues

Financially, the first two years in Vienna were very difficult for Beethoven. His first home was in a basement. He had to spend money for furniture, a piano, wood, clothes, in order to make a name for himself in the musical world. Even if his sense of style, as far as clothes went, was more than shabby, his talent and personality helped him improve his financial situation. Most of his acquisitions were gifts from aristocrats, in the saloons of whom he held concerts. Later, money came from author’s rights – he managed to publish his works right from the start, which was not an easy thing at that time. In the first years of his stay in Vienna he raised the extra money he needed from public concerts and tours. He didn’t like to be a teacher; nevertheless he gave private lessons, especially to young aristocratic girls. Usually they took lessons until they got married, after which they almost completely abandoned them. Among Beethoven’s students there were also famous pianists, talented and distinguished ladies like Tereza Brunswik or Dorothea Ertmann.

Playing in the First Academy

Beethoven’s fame was growing by the day. On March 29th-30th 1795, Beethoven was invited to his first "Academy" – a charity event for the widows and orphans of musicians. On December 16th 1795, the already famous Beethoven was invited to Haydn’s "Academy", despite the tense relationship between the two. In the same period, Beethoven had the satisfaction of yet another victory. For the artist’s annual ball, Vienna’s most acclaimed composers wrote dances: waltz, ecossaise, German dances, quadrille, minuet, etc. The dances of Haydn, Kozeluch, Dittersdorf and others were successful, but were never performed twice. Beethoven’s dances, written in 1795, were very much treasured – after two years they were reiterated with the same success, and, they were even printed in transcripts for piano.

Touring Prague and Berlin. Virtuoso and Composer

In February 1796, Beethoven goes on tour in Prague and Berlin accompanied by prince Lichnowsky (one of his protectors, a nobleman and an admirer of his work). He is very successful in both cities, even if in Berlin the manner in which the audience received his work disappointed Beethoven. Pedagogue Carl Czerny, Beethoven’s future student, describes the composer’s improvisations: "His improvisation was crystalline and worthy of admiration at the utmost degree." In whatever company he might have found himself, Beethoven knew how to make an impression, so that no eye remained dry, many even bursting into tears upon listening to his music. Once, after finishing an improvisation, he started laughing, thus satirizing the listeners who had let their emotions loose, upon listening to his music. “You fools!” he said, seemingly offended by such proof of admiration, “who can live among such spoiled children?”

Beethoven’s success continued. He held a concert in Prague and appeared in public twice holding two piano concertos (Op.15 and Op.19). As a virtuoso, Beethoven was favorite in Vienna’s musical life and in that of the whole German countries. Joseph Wolffl, Mozart’s student, was the only one who could compete with Beethoven – the pianist. Unmatched clarity and precision, serenity, grace, beautiful, moderate sonority, technical perfection, lack of “romantic fantasies” in the sense of diminishing sounds, so much in fashion at the time – they all made Wolffl’s performance truly remarkable. But Beethoven was still superior because he was not only an outstanding pianist, but also a genius creator.

In a span of five years (1795-1799) Beethoven created various works. The most important of them are the piano sonatas. In the same period, he came up with the ideas for the extraordinary string quartets (Op.18) and for Symphony No. 1, works that promoted a whole new instrumental style.

Best 5 Beethoven Books

  1. Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris; Eminent Lives (October 4, 2005).
  2. Beethoven by Maynard Solomon; 2nd Rev edition (September 1, 2001).
  3. Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood; W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (January 30, 2005).
  4. Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon; 1 edition (October 4, 2004).
  5. Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler; Dover Publications; n.e.of "Beethoven as I Knew Him: A Biography"edition (September 3, 1996).