|Beethoven in 1818 by August Klöber|
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Beethoven's Early Life
Beethoven was born in Germany. His family were musicians. His family was not rich. Because his father was a poor provider, Beethoven's family got a little bit of financial help from Beethoven's grandfather. Beethoven didn't learn very well at school and his family couldn't afford to send him to a good school. Beethoven had to live under a cloud of shame due to his father's bad reputation.
Beethoven also lived under his fathers pressure to make him into a famous child prodigy like Mozart had been.
As a young adult, Beethoven studied with a famous composer called Haydn. They didn't get along so his lessons ended. He also taught some pupils that became famous musicians too.
In his 20's Beethoven also moved away from Germany to Vienna. When he moved away his father died. Beethoven wrote many great compositions and managed to impress the right people at various court concerts.
Also, in his 20's Beethoven started to go deaf, affecting his social and work life.
Beethoven died of Oedema (excess water and swelling of the body) when he was 56. However doctors back then weren't as informed at making diagnoses and doing autopsies- so there were probably other health problems that contributed to his death too.
Beethoven's social life
Beethoven had a difficult personality and would often openly insult people and burst into fits of anger. He couldn't ever commit to a woman or have a normal relationship. He was attracted to women, but only really loved one woman who left him after some time to marry someone else. He never got over her and always loved her.
When Beethoven's brother died he adopted his nephew. However, the relationship wasn't very good. They often fought and his nephew even tried to commit suicide.
On top of the stress with his nephew, in his later years Beethoven had financial stress. Even though Beethoven still had work, his cashflow was not reliable because of the financial difficulties of his patrons who themselves were experiencing dwindling finances.
Listening to Beethoven's music
If you take the time to listen to Beethoven's music it will open up a world of emotions that can't be explained in words. Beethoven agonised over his compositions and was a perfectionist. He also lived in a time of great social upheaval- the time of Napoleon Bonaparte.
His works express everything from personal feelings of longing and frustration, to his desire to support or denounce the vast political and social movements which he lived through. He broke the rules of musical composition by changing the structure of his pieces and he was equally as talented at composing for orchestra's as he was for solo piano. Beethoven was certainly a unique person to be living in that time and this is what made his music so famous.
Go onto YouTube or iTunes and listen to Beethoven's music. Research when his works were written and try to match it to what Beethoven was doing at that time in his life. Was he full of hope and adventure, having just arrived in Vienna? (such as in his early years)... Or was he despondent and disillusioned? (such as in the years leading up to his death).