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Ludwig van Beethoven was a deaf German composer and the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras.
A short biography of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Beethoven got the opportunity to go to Vienna and intends to play for Mozart.
Celebrated as musical genius, Beethoven's compositions are often extremely difficult to play.
As a child Beethoven was taught by his father to play the piano: His drunken teacher often beat him when he did not meet his standards.
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If I had any other profession, I might be able to cope with my infirmity; but in my profession it is a terrible handicap." At times driven to extremes of melancholy by his affliction, Beethoven described his despair in a long and poignant note that he concealed his entire life.
Dated October 6, 1802 and referred to as "The Heiligenstadt Testament," it reads in part, "O you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn or misanthropic,
how greatly do you wrong me. You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you and I would have ended my life -- it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me."
Almost miraculously, despite his rapidly progressing deafness, Beethoven continued to compose at a furious pace. From 1803-1812, what is known as his "middle" or "heroic" period, he composed an opera, six symphonies, four solo concerti, five string quartets, six string sonatas, seven piano sonatas, five sets of piano variations, four overtures, four trios, two sextets and 72 songs. The most famous among these were symphonies No. 3-8, the "Moonlight Sonata," the "Kreutzer" violin sonata and Fidelio, his only opera. In terms of the astonishing output of superlatively complex, original and beautiful music, this period in Beethoven's life is unrivaled by any of any other composer in history.
Despite his extraordinary output of beautiful music, Beethoven was lonely and frequently miserable throughout his adult life. Short-tempered, absent-minded, greedy and suspicious to the point of paranoia, Beethoven feuded with his brothers, his publishers, his housekeepers, his pupils and his patrons. In one illustrative incident, Beethoven attempted to break a chair over the head of Prince Lichnowsky, one of his closest friends and most loyal patrons. Another time he stood in the doorway of Prince Lobkowitz's palace shouting for all to hear, "Lobkowitz is a donkey!"
For a variety of reasons that included his crippling shyness and unfortunate physical appearance, Beethoven never married or had children. He was, however, desperately in love with a married woman named Antonie Brentano. Over the course of two days in July of 1812, Beethoven wrote her a long and beautiful love letter that he never sent. Addressed "to you, my Immortal Beloved," the letter said in part, "My heart is full of so many things to say to you -- ah -- there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all -- Cheer up -- remain my true, my only love, my all as I am yours."
The death of Beethoven's brother Caspar in 1815 sparked one of the great trials of his life, a painful legal battle with his sister-in-law, Johanna, over the custody of Karl van Beethoven, his nephew and her son. The struggle stretched on for seven years during which both sides spewed ugly defamations at the other. In the end, Beethoven won the boy's custody, though hardly his affection.
Somehow, despite his tumultuous personal life, physical infirmity and complete deafness, Beethoven composed his greatest music -- perhaps the greatest music ever composed -- near the end of his life.
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