LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN: An Artist Who Striked The Musical Notes In Everyone?s Heart!
17, December, 1770-March 26, 1827
Every composer who has ventured to write a symphony must acknowledge Ludwig Van Beethoven, his debt to that mighty architect of music in Vienna who constructed an edifice so large that it has sheltered virtually all music down to our own times.
When Ludwig Van Beethoven?s first symphony was performed in 1800, he was not yet 30 years old. Full of ambitions, gay and cheerful, he was attempting to capture the citadel of musical Vienna as a piano virtuoso.
He conformed to conventions, composing cheerful chamber music. He attracted pupils and admirers from the best circles. But the cruel hand of fate struck Beethoven. He began to show alarming signs of deafness. He was shattered and avoided social gatherings. When he could no longer hide it, he retreated to a little suburb near Vienna. He wrote about his misery in a long document called ?Testament?.
There is no bigger tragedy to a musician than not hearing his own compositions. What a humiliation to a great artist. He was on the verge of despair, yet at this very time, he composed the serenely lovely ?Second Symphony?.
It is cruel to say, but probably true that Beethoven?s deafness proved to be a blessing for music. Giving up his career as a virtuoso, hearing sounds only in his brain and being shut off from the outer world, he constantly intensified and deepened his musical thought and gave gems one after another to the world.
Of all the 100s of symphonies that have been composed, none can rival in popularity or emotional interest, the 9 great symphonic works that Ludwig Van Beethoven wrote.
Why is this?
What is it that sets these symphonies apart?
Do they have memorable melodies and good tunes?
Does their profundity present to us a never-ending mystery which we must penetrate?
Is their orchestration particularly colourful and sensuous?
Yes, that is not all. The reason is Ludwig Van Beethoven took music off the pedestal of formal beauty where Haydn and Mozart had left it and immersed it in the whirlpool of life.
His symphonies evoked emotions and made music more humane. That is why more people can respond at once to a Beethoven symphony than to any other.
Alas, his deafness made him cantankerous, brooding, and a solitary man. His violent temper drove away his friends and relatives. He took little care of his health which deteriorated steadily. To the very last, he wanted to compose and planned to work up some sketches he had for a 10th symphony. But he could not as he was snatched away by death on March 26, 1827 at the age of 56.
Many composers have written fine symphonies, but Ludwig Van Beethoven?s music remains in a class by themselves ? invaluable. His range was encompassing. Such was the famous musical genius who did not hear his own compositions and yet excelled in it.