Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770-1827), German composer, whom many consider the greatest composer in the Western tradition.
Born December 16, 1770, in Bonn, Beethoven was reared in stimulating, although unhappy, surroundings. His early signs of musical talent were subjected to the capricious discipline of his father, a singer in the court chapel. In 1789, because of his father's alcoholism, the young Beethoven began supporting his family as a court musician. His early compositions under the tutelage of the German composer Christian Gottlob Neefe—particularly the funeral cantata on the death (1790) of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II—signaled an important talent, and it was planned that Beethoven study in Vienna with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Although Mozart's death (1791) prevented this, Beethoven went to Vienna in 1792 and became a pupil of the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn.
In Vienna, Beethoven dazzled the aristocracy with his piano improvisations; meanwhile, he entered into increasingly favorable arrangements with Viennese music publishers. In composition he steered a middle course between the stylistic extravagance of the German composer Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and what the public had perceived as the overrefinement of Mozart. The broadening market for published music enabled him to succeed as a free-lance composer, a path that Mozart a decade earlier had found full of frustration.
In the first decade of the 19th century Beethoven renounced the sectional, loosely constructed style of works such as the popular Septet op. 20, for strings and winds, and turned to a fresh expansion of the musical language bequeathed by Haydn and Mozart. Despite his exaggerated claim that “he had never learned anything from Haydn”—he had gone so far as to seek additional instruction from the German composer Johann Georg Albrechtsberger—Beethoven soon revealed his complete assimilation of the Viennese classical style in every major instrumental genre: symphony, concerto, string quartet, and sonata. The majority of the works for which he is most readily remembered today were composed during the decade bounded by the Symphony no. 3 (Eroica, begun 1803; first performed, 1805) and the Symphony no. 8 (1812), a period known as his “heroic decade.”
Beethoven's fame reached its zenith during these years, but the steadily worsening hearing impairment that he had first noted in 1798 led to an increasing sense of social isolation.
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Ludwig van Beethoven životopis
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