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About Ludwig van Beethoven

(1770-1827) Classical and Romantic Periods – Austria

Ludwig van Beethoven was an extremely important figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic periods in Western music. Beethoven grew up in Bonn, Germany and demonstrated musical talent from an early age. His earliest teachers were his father (who was an abusive alcoholic) and Christian Gottlob Neefe, the court organist. In 1792 he moved to Vienna where he studied with Franz Joseph Haydn. He had also intended to study with Mozart, but Mozart died before Beethoven could make the move to Vienna.

Around 1800, Beethoven began noticing that his hearing was deteriorating. In the last 10 years of his life, he was totally deaf. Some musicologists mark Beethoven’s last decade as the beginning of the Romantic Period. He made more drastic changes to music than any of his predecessors: expanding the instrumentation of the orchestra, being the first to call for choir in a symphony, composing the longest symphonies and piano sonatas written up to that time, and experimenting with keys and forms. He is most famous for his 9 symphonies, 5 piano concerti, 32 piano sonatas, and 16 string quartets. He also composed other chamber music, choral works, and an opera.

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