Beethoven, Ludwig van

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Beethoven, Ludwig van

Beethoven, Ludwig van, great German composer whose unsurpassed genius, expressed with supreme mastery in his syms., chamber music, concertos, and piano sonatas, revealing an extraordinary power of invention, marked a historic turn in the art of composition; b. Bonn, Dec. 15 or 16 (baptized, Dec. 17), 1770; d. Vienna, March 26, 1827. (Beethoven himself maintained, against all evidence, that he was born in 1772, and that the 1770 date referred to his older brother, deceased in infancy, whose forename was also Ludwig.) The family was of Dutch extraction (the surname Beethoven meant “beet garden” in Dutch). Beethoven’s grandfather, Ludwig van Beethoven (b. Mechelen, Belgium, Jan. 5, 1712; d. Bonn, Dec. 24, 1773), served as choir director of the church of St. Pierre in Louvain in 1731; in 1732 he went to Liège, where he sang bass in the cathedral choir of St. Lambert; in 1733 he became a member of the choir in Bonn; there he married Maria Poll. Prevalent infant mortality took its statistically predictable tribute; the couple’s only surviving child was Johann van Beethoven; he married a young widow, Maria Magdalena Leym (née Keverich), daughter of the chief overseer of the kitchen at the palace in Ehrenbreitstein; they were the composer’s parents. Beethoven firmly believed that the nobiliary particle “van” in the family name betokened a nobility; in his demeaning litigation with his brother’s widow over the guardianship of Beethoven’s nephew Karl, he argued before the Vienna magistrate that as a nobleman he should be given preference over his sister-in-law, a commoner, but the court rejected his contention on the ground that “van” lacked the elevated connotation of its German counterpart, “von.” Beethoven could never provide a weightier claim of noble descent. In private, he even tolerated without forceful denial the fantastic rumor that he was a natural son of royalty, a love child of Friedrich Wilhelm II, or even of Frederick the Great.

Beethoven’s father gave him rudimentary instruction in music; he learned to play both the violin and the piano; Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer, a local musician, gave him formal piano lessons; the court organist in Bonn, Gilles van Eeden, instructed him in keyboard playing and in music theory; Franz Rovantini gave him violin lessons; another violinist who taught Beethoven was Franz Ries. Beethoven also learned to play the horn, under the guidance of the professional musician Ni-kolaus Simrock. Beethoven’s academic training was meager; he was, however, briefly enrolled at the Univ. of Bonn in 1789. His first important teacher of composition was Christian Gottlob Neefe, a thorough musician who seemed to understand his pupil’s great potential even in his early youth. He guided Beethoven in the study of Bach and encouraged him in keyboard improvisation. At the age of 12, in 1782, Beethoven composed Nine Variations for Piano on a March of Dressier, his first work to be publ. In 1783 he played the cembalo in the Court Orch. in Bonn; in 1784 the Elector Maximilian Franz officially appointed him to the post of deputy court organist, a position he retained until 1792; from 1788 to 1792 Beethoven also served as a violist in theater orchs. In 1787 the Elector sent him to Vienna, where he stayed for a short time; the report that he played for Mozart and that Mozart pronounced him a future great composer seems to be a figment of somebody’s eager imagination. After a few weeks in Vienna Beethoven went to Bonn when he received news that his mother was gravely ill; she died on July 17, 1787. He was obliged to provide sustenance for his two younger brothers; his father, who took to drink in excess, could not meet his obligations. Beethoven earned some money by giving piano lessons to the children of Helene von Breuning, the widow of a court councillor. He also met important wealthy admirers, among them Count Ferdinand von Waldstein, who was to be immortalized by Beethoven’s dedication to him of a piano sonata bearing his name. Beethoven continued to compose; some of his works of the period were written in homage to royalty, as a cantata on the death of the Emperor Joseph II and another on the accession of Emperor Leopold II; other pieces were designed for performance at aristocratic gatherings.

In 1790 an event of importance took place in Beethoven’s life when Haydn was honored in Bonn by the Elector on his way to London; it is likely that Beethoven was introduced to him, and that Haydn encouraged him to come to Vienna to study with him. However that might be, Beethoven went to Vienna in Nov. 1792, and began his studies with Haydn. Not very prudently, Beethoven approached the notable teacher Johann Schenk to help him write the mandatory exercises prior to delivering them to Haydn for final appraisal. In the meantime, Haydn had to go to London again, and Beethoven’s lessons with him were discontinued. Instead, Beethoven began a formal study of counterpoint with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, a learned musician and knowledgeable pedagogue; these studies continued for about a year, until 1795. Furthermore, Beethoven took lessons in vocal composition with the illustrious Italian composer Salieri, who served as Imperial Kapellmeister at the Austrian court. Beethoven was fortunate to find a generous benefactor in Prince Karl Lichnowsky, who awarded him, beginning about 1800, an annual stipend of 600 florins; he was amply repaid for this bounty by entering the pantheon of music history through Beethoven’s dedication to him of the Sonate pathétique and other works, as well as his first opus number, a set of three piano trios. Among other aristocrats of Vienna who were introduced into the gates of permanence through Beethoven’s dedications was Prince Franz Joseph Lobkowitz, whose name adorns the title pages of the six String Quartets, op. 18; the Eroica Symphony (after Beethoven unsuccessfully tried to dedicate it to Napoleon); the Triple Concerto, op.56; and (in conjunction with Prince Razumovsky) the fifth and sixth syms.—a glorious florilegium of great music. Prince Razumovsky, the Russian ambassador to Vienna, played an important role in Beethoven’s life. From 1808 to 1816 he maintained in his residence a string quartet in which he himself played the second violin (the leader was Beethoven’s friend Schuppanzigh). It was to Razumovsky that Beethoven dedicated his three string quartets that became known as the Razumovsky quartets, in which Beethoven made use of authentic Russian folk themes. Razumovsky also shared with Lobkowitz the dedications of Beethoven’s fifth and sixth syms. Another Russian patron was Prince Golitzyn, for whom Beethoven wrote his great string quartets opp. 127, 130, and 132.

Beethoven made his first public appearance in Vienna on March 29, 1795, as soloist in one of his piano concertos (probably the B-flat major Concerto, op.19). In 1796 he played in Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, and Berlin. He also participated in “competitions,” fashionable at the time, with other pianists, which were usually held in aristocratic salons. In 1799 he competed with Joseph Wölffl and in 1800 with Daniel Steibelt. On April 2, 1800, he presented a concert of his works in the Burgtheater in Vienna, at which his First Sym., in C major, and the Septet in E-flat major were performed for the first time. Other compositions at the threshold of the century were the Piano Sonata in C minor, op. 13, the Pathétique; the C–major Piano Concerto, op. 15; “sonata quasi una fantasia” for Piano in C-sharp minor, op.27, celebrated under the nickname Moonlight Sonata (so described by a romantically inclined critic but not specifically accepted by Beethoven); the D-major Piano Sonata known as Pastoral; eight violin sonatas; three piano trios; five string trios; six string quartets; several sets of variations; and a number of songs.

Fétis was the first to suggest the division of Beethoven’s compositions into three stylistic periods. It was left to Wilhelm von Lenz to fully elucidate this view in his Beethoven et ses trois styles (two vols., St. Petersburg, 1852). Despite this arbitrary chronological division, the work became firmly established in Beethoven literature. According to Lenz, the first period embraced Beethoven’s works from his early years to the end of the 18th century, marked by a style closely related to the formal methods of Haydn. The second period, covering the years 1801–14, was signaled by a more personal, quasi-Romantic mood, beginning with the Moonlight Sonata; the last period, extending from 1814 to Beethoven’s death in 1827, comprised the most individual, the most unconventional, the most innovative works, such as his last string quartets and the Ninth Sym., with its extraordinary choral finale.

Beethoven’s early career in Vienna was marked by fine success; he was popular not only as a virtuoso pianist and a composer, but also as a social figure who was welcome in the aristocratic circles of Vienna; Beethoven’s students included society ladies and even royal personages, such as Archduke Rudolf of Austria, to whom Beethoven dedicated the so-called Archduke Trio, op.97. But Beethoven’s progress was fatefully affected by a mysteriously growing deafness, which reached a crisis in 1802. On Oct. 8 and 10, 1802, he wrote a poignant document known as the “Heiligenstadt Testament,” for it was drawn in the village of Heiligenstadt, where he resided at the time. The document, not discovered until after Beethoven’s death, voiced his despair at the realization that the most important sense of his being, the sense of hearing, was inexorably failing. He implored his brothers, in case of his early death, to consult his physician, Dr. Schmidt, who knew the secret of his “lasting malady” contracted six years before he wrote the Testament, i.e., in 1796. The etiology of his illness leaves little doubt that the malady was the dreaded “lues,” with symptoms including painful intestinal disturbances, enormous enlargement of the pancreas, cirrhosis of the liver, and, most ominously, the porous degeneration of the roof of the cranium, observable in the life mask of 1812 and clearly shown in the photograph of Beethoven’s skull taken when his body was exhumed in 1863. However, the impairment of his hearing may have had an independent cause: an otosclerosis, resulting in the shriveling of the auditory nerves and concomitant dilation of the accompanying arteries. Externally, there were signs of tinnitus, a constant buzzing in the ears, about which Beethoven complained. His reverential biographer A.W. Thayer states plainly in a letter dated Oct. 29, 1880, that it was known to several friends of Beethoven that the cause of his combined ailments was syphilis.

To the end of his life Beethoven hoped to find a remedy for his deafness among the latest “scientific” medications. His Konversationshefte bear a pathetic testimony to these hopes; in one, dated 1819, he notes down the address of a Dr. Mayer, who treated deafness by “sulphur vapor” and a vibration machine. By tragic irony, Beethoven’s deafness greatly contributed to the study of his personality, thanks to the existence of the “conversation books” in which his interlocutors wrote down their questions and Beethoven replied, a method of communication which became a rule in his life after 1818. Unfortunately, Beethoven’s friend and amanuensis, Anton Schindler, altered or deleted many of these; it seems also likely that he destroyed Beethoven’s correspondence with his doctors, as well as the recipes which apparently contained indications of treatment by mercury, the universal medication against venereal and other diseases at the time.

It is remarkable that under these conditions Beethoven was able to continue his creative work with his usual energy; there were few periods of interruption in the chronology of his list of works, and similarly there is no apparent influence of his moods of depression on the content of his music; tragic and joyful musical passages had equal shares in his inexhaustible flow of varied works. On April 5, 1803, Beethoven presented a concert of his compositions in Vienna at which he was soloist in his Third Piano Concerto; the program also contained performances of his Second Sym. and of the oratorio Christus am Oelberge. On May 24, 1803, he played in Vienna the piano part of his Violin Sonata, op.47, known as the Kreutzer Sonata, although Kreutzer himself did not introduce it; in his place the violin part was taken over by the mulatto artist George Bridgetower. During the years 1803 and 1804 Beethoven composed his great Sym. No. 3, in E-flat major, op.55, the Eroica. It has an interesting history. Beethoven’s disciple Ferdinand Ries relates that Beethoven tore off the title page of the MS of the score orig. dedicated to Napoleon, after learning of his proclamation as Emperor of France in 1804, and supposedly exclaimed, “So he is a tyrant like all the others after all!” Ries reported this story shortly before his death, some 34 years after the composition of the Eroica, which throws great doubt on its credibility. Indeed, in a letter to the publishing firm of Breitkopf & Härtel, dated Aug. 26, 1804, long after Napoleon’sproclamation of Empire, Beethoven still refers to the title of the work as “really Bonaparte.” His own copy of the score shows that he crossed out the designation “Inttitulata Bonaparte,” but allowed the words written in pencil, in German, “Geschrieben auf Bonaparte” to stand. In Oct. 1806, when the first ed. of the orch. parts was publ. in Vienna, the sym. received the title “Sinfonia eroica composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d’un grand’ uomo” (“heroic sym., composed to celebrate the memory of a great man”). But who was the great man whose memory was being celebrated in Beethoven’s masterpiece? Napoleon was very much alive and was still leading his Grande Armee to new conquests, so the title would not apply. Yet, the famous funeral march in the score expressed a sense of loss and mourning. The mystery remains. There is evidence that Beethoven continued to have admiration for Napoleon. He once remarked that had he been a military man he could have matched Napoleon’s greatness on the battlefield. Beethoven and Napoleon were close contemporaries; Napoleon was a little more than a year older than Beethoven.

In 1803 Emanuel Schikaneder, manager of the Theater an der Wien, asked Beethoven to compose an opera to a libretto he had prepared under the title Vestas Feuer, but he soon lost interest in the project and instead began work on another opera, based on J.N. Bouilly’s Leonore, ou L’Amour conjugal. The completed opera was named Fidelio, which was the heroine’s assumed name in her successful efforts to save her imprisoned husband. The opera was given at the Theater an der Wien on Nov. 20, 1805, under difficult circumstances, a few days after the French army entered Vienna. There were only three performances before the opera was rescheduled for March 29 and April 10, 1806; after another long hiatus a greatly revised version of Fidelio was produced on May 23, 1814. Beethoven wrote three versions of the Overture for Leonore) for another performance, on May 26, 1814, he revised the Overture once more, and this time it was performed under the title Fidelio Overture.

An extraordinary profusion of creative masterpieces marked the years 1802–08 in Beethoven’s life. During these years he brought out the three String Quartets, op.59, dedicated to Count Razumovsky; the fourth, fifth, and sixth syms.; the Violin Concerto; theFourth Piano Concerto; the Triple Concerto; the Coriolan Overture; and a number of piano sonatas, including the D minor, op.31; No. 2, the Tempest; the C major, op.53, the Waldstein; and the F minor, op.57, the Appassionata. On Dec. 22, 1808, his fifth and sixth syms. were heard for the first time at a concert in Vienna; the concert lasted some four hours. Still, financial difficulties beset Beethoven. The various annuities from patrons were uncertain, and the devaluation of the Austrian currency played havoc with his calculations. In Oct. 1808, King Jerome Bonaparte of Westphalia offered the composer the post of Kapellmeister of Kassel at a substantial salary, but Beethoven decided to remain in Vienna. Between 1809 and 1812, Beethoven wrote his Fifth Piano Concerto; the String Quartet in E-flat major, op.74; the incidental music to Goethe’s drama Egmont; the seventh and eighth syms.; and his Piano Sonata in E- flat major, op.8la, whimsically subtitled “Das Lebewohl, Abwe-senheit und Wiedersehn,” also known by its French subtitle, “Les Adieux, l’absence, et le retour.” He also added a specific description to the work, “Sonate caractéristique.” This explicit characterization was rare with Beethoven; he usually avoided programmatic descriptions, preferring to have his music stand by itself. Even in his Sixth Sym., the Pastoral, which bore specific subtitles for each movement and had the famous imitations of birds singing and the realistic portrayal of a storm, Beethoven decided to append a cautionary phrase:”More as an expression of one’s feelings than a picture.” He specifically denied that the famous introductory call in the Fifth Sym. represented the knock of Fate at his door, but the symbolic association was too powerful to be removed from the legend; yet the characteristic iambic tetrameter was anticipated in several of Beethoven’s works, among them the Appassionata and the Fourth Piano Concerto. Czerny, who was close to Beethoven in Vienna, claimed that the theme was derived by Beethoven from the cry of the songbird Emberiza, or Emmerling, a species to which the common European goldfinch belongs, which Beethoven may have heard during his walks in the Vienna woods, a cry that is piercing enough to compensate for Beethoven’s loss of aural acuity. However that may be, the four-note motif became inexorably connected with the voice of doom for enemies and the exultation of the victor in battle. It was used as a victory call by the Allies in World War II; the circumstance that three short beats followed by one long beat spelled V for Victory in Morse code reinforced its effectiveness. The Germans could not very well jail people for whistling a Beethoven tune, so they took it over themselves as the first letter of the archaic German word “Viktoria,” and trumpeted it blithely over their radios. Another famous nicknamed work by Beethoven was the Emperor Concerto, a label attached to the Fifth Piano Concerto, op.73. He wrote it in 1809, when Napoleon’s star was still high in the European firmament, and some publicist decided that the martial strains of the music, with its sonorous fanfares, must have been a tribute to the Emperor of the French. Patriotic reasons seemed to underlie Beethoven’s designation of his Piano Sonata, op. 106, as the Hammerklavier Sonata, that is, a work written for a hammer keyboard, or fortepiano, as distinct from harpsichord. But all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas were for fortepiano; moreover, he assigned the title Hammerklavier to each of the 4 sonatas, namely opp. 101, 106, 109, and 110, using the old German word for fortepiano; by so doing, he desired to express his patriotic consciousness of being a German.

Like many professional musicians, Beethoven was occasionally called upon to write a work glorifying an important event or a famous personage. Pieces of this kind seldom achieve validity, and usually produce bombast. Such a work was Beethoven’s Wellingtons Sieg oder Die Schlacht bei Vittoria, celebrating the British victory over Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother who temporarily sat on the Spanish throne. In 1814 Beethoven wrote a cantata entitled Der glorreiche Augen-blick, intended to mark the “glorious moment” of the fall of his erstwhile idol, Napoleon.

Personal misfortunes, chronic ailments, and intermittent quarrels with friends and relatives preoccupied Beethoven’s entire life. He ardently called for peace among men, but he never achieved peace with himself. Yet he could afford to disdain the attacks in the press; on the margin of a critical but justified review of his Wellington’s Victory, he wrote, addressing the writer: “You wretched scoundrel! What I excrete [he used the vulgar German word scheisse] is better than anything you could ever think up!”

Beethoven was overly suspicious; he even accused the faithful Schindler of dishonestly mishandling the receipts from the sale of tickets at the first performance of the Ninth Sym. He exaggerated his poverty; he possessed some shares and bonds which he kept in a secret drawer. He was untidy in personal habits: he often used preliminary drafts of his compositions to cover the soup and even the chamber pot, leaving telltale circles on the MS. He was strangely naive; he studiously examined the winning numbers of the Austrian government lottery, hoping to find a numerological clue to a fortune for himself. His handwriting was all but indecipherable. An earnest Beethoveniac spent time with a microscope trying to figure out what kind of soap Beethoven wanted his housekeeper to purchase for him; the scholar’s efforts were crowned with triumphant success: the indecipherable word was gelbe—Beethoven wanted a piece of yellow soap. Q.E.D. The copying of his MSS presented difficulties; not only were the notes smudged, but sometimes Beethoven even failed to mark a crucial accidental. A copyist said that he would rather copy 20 pages of Rossini than a single page of Beethoven. On the other hand, Beethoven’s sketchbooks, containing many alternative drafts, are extremely valuable, for they introduce a scholar into the inner sanctum of Beethoven’s creative process.

Beethoven had many devoted friends and admirers in Vienna, but he spent most of his life in solitude. Carl Czerny reports in his diary that Beethoven once asked him to let him lodge in his house, but Czerny declined, explaining that his aged parents lived with him and he had no room for Beethoven. Deprived of the pleasures and comforts of family life, Beethoven sought to find a surrogate in his nephew Karl, son of Caspar Carl Beethoven, who died in 1815. Beethoven regarded his sister-in-law as an unfit mother; he went to court to gain sole guardianship over the boy; in his private letters, and even in his legal depositions, he poured torrents of vilification upon the woman, implying even that she was engaged in prostitution. In his letters to Karl he often signed himself as the true father of the boy. In 1826 Karl attempted suicide; it would be unfair to ascribe this act to Beethoven’s stifling avuncular affection; Karl later went into the army and enjoyed a normal life.

Gallons of ink have been unnecessarily expended on the crucial question of Beethoven’s relationships with women. That Beethoven dreamed of an ideal life companion is clear from his numerous utterances and candid letters to friends, in some of which he asked them to find a suitable bride for him. But there is no inkling that he kept company with any particular woman in Vienna. Beethoven lacked social graces; he could not dance; he was unable to carry on a light conversation about trivia; and behind it all there was the dreadful reality of his deafness. He could speak, but could not always understand when he was spoken to. With close friends he used an unwieldy ear trumpet; but such contrivances were obviously unsuitable in a social gathering. There were several objects of his secret passions, among his pupils or the society ladies to whom he dedicated his works. But somehow he never actually proposed marriage, and they usually married less hesitant suitors. There remains the famous letter Beethoven addressed to an “unsterbliche Geliebte,” the “Immortal Beloved,” but her identity remains a matter of much controversy among Beethoven scholars. See G. Altman, Beethoven: Man of His World: Undisclosed Evidence for His Immortal Beloved (Tallahassee, 1996).

The so-called third style of Beethoven was assigned by biographers to the last 10 or 15 years of his life. It included the composition of his monumental Ninth Sym., completed in 1824 and first performed in Vienna on May 7, 1824; the program also included excerpts from the Missa Solemnis and Die Weihe des Hauses. It was reported that Caroline Unger, the contralto soloist in the Missa Solemnis, had to pull Beethoven by the sleeve at the end of the performance so that he would acknowledge the applause he could not hear. With the Ninth Sym., Beethoven completed the evolution of the symphonic form as he envisioned it. Its choral finale was his manifesto addressed to the world at large, to the text from Schiller’s ode An die Freude. In it, Beethoven, through Schiller, appealed to all humanity to unite in universal love. Here a musical work, for the first time, served a political ideal. Beethoven’s last string quartets, opp. 127, 130, 131, and 132, served as counterparts of his last sym. in their striking innovations, dramatic pauses, and novel instrumental tone colors.

In Dec. 1826, on his way back to Vienna from a visit in Gneixendorf, Beethoven was stricken with a fever that developed into a mortal pleurisy; dropsy and jaundice supervened to this condition; surgery to relieve the accumulated fluid in his organism was unsuccessful, and he died on the afternoon of March 26, 1827. It was widely reported that an electric storm struck Vienna as Beethoven lay dying; its occurrence was indeed confirmed by the contemporary records in the Vienna weather bureau, but the story that he raised his clenched fist aloft as a gesture of defiance to an overbearing Heaven must be relegated to fantasy; he was far too feeble either to clench his fist or to raise his arm. The funeral of Beethoven was held in all solemnity.

Beethoven was memorialized in festive observations of the centennial and bicentennial of his birth, and of the centennial and sesquicentennial of his death. The house where he was born in Bonn was declared a museum. Monuments were erected to him in many cities. Commemorative postage stamps bearing his image were issued not only in Germany and Austria, but in Russia and other countries. Streets were named after him in many cities of the civilized world, including even Los Angeles.

Beethoven’s music marks a division between the Classical period of the 18th century, exemplified by the great names of Mozart and Haydn, and the new spirit of Romantic music that characterized the entire course of the 19th century. There are certain purely external factors that distinguish these two periods of musical evolution; one of them pertains to sartorial matters. Music before Beethoven was Zopfmusik, pigtail music. Haydn and Mozart are familiar to us by portraits in which their heads are crowned by elaborate wigs; Beethoven’s hair was by contrast luxuriant in its unkempt splendor. The music of the 18th century possessed the magnitude of mass production. The accepted number of Haydn’s syms., according to his own count, is 104, but even in his own catalogue Haydn allowed a duplication of one of his symphonic works. Mozart wrote about 40 syms. during his short lifetime. Haydn’s syms. were constructed according to an easily defined formal structure; while Mozart’s last syms. show greater depth of penetration, they do not depart from the Classical convention. Besides, both Haydn and Mozart wrote instrumental works variously entitled cassations, serenades, divertimentos, and suites, which were basically synonymous with syms. Beethoven’s syms. were few in number and mutually different. The first and second syms. may still be classified as Zopfmusik, but with the Third Sym. he entered a new world of music. No sym. written before had contained a clearly defined funeral march. Although the Fifth Sym. had no designated program, it lent itself easily to programmatic interpretation. Wagner attached a bombastic label, “Apotheosis of the Dance,” to Beethoven’s Seventh Sym. The Eighth Sym. Beethoven called his “little sym.,” and the Ninth is usually known as the Choral sym. With the advent of Beethoven, the manufacture of syms. en masse had ceased; Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and their contemporaries wrote but a few syms. each, and each had a distinctive physiognomy. Beethoven had forever destroyed Zopfmusik, and opened the floodgates of the Romantic era. His music was individual; it was emotionally charged; his Kreutzer Sonata served as a symbol for Tolstoy’s celebrated moralistic tale of that name, in which the last movement of the sonata leads the woman pianist into the receptive arms of the concupiscent violinist. But technically the sonata is very difficult for amateurs to master, and Tolstoy’s sinners were an ordinary couple in old Russia.

Similarly novel were Beethoven’s string quartets; a musical abyss separated his last string quartets from his early essays in the same form. Trios, violin sonatas, cello sonatas, and the 32 great piano sonatas also represent evolutionary concepts. Yet Beethoven’s melody and harmony did not diverge from the sacrosanct laws of euphony and tonality. The famous dissonant chord introducing the last movement of the Ninth Sym. resolves naturally into the tonic, giving only a moment’s pause to the ear. Beethoven’s favorite device of pairing the melody in the high treble with triadic chords in close harmony in the deep bass was a peculiarity of his style but not necessarily an infringement of the Classical rules. Yet contemporary critics found some of these practices repugnant and described Beethoven as an eccentric bent on creating unconventional sonorities. Equally strange to the untutored ear were pregnant pauses and sudden modulations in his instrumental works. Beethoven was not a contrapuntist by taste or skill. With the exception of his monumental Grosse Fuge, composed as the finale of the String Quartet, op. 133, his fugai movements were usually free canonic imitations. There is only a single instance in Beethoven’s music of the crab movement, a variation achieved by running the theme in reverse. But he was a master of instrumental variation, deriving extraordinary transformations through melodic and rhythmic alterations of a given theme. His op.120, 33 variations for piano on a waltz theme by the Viennese publisher Diabelli, represents one of the greatest achievements in the art.

When Hans von Bülow was asked which was his favorite key signature, he replied that it was E-flat major, the tonality of the Eroica, for it had three flats: one for Bach, one for Beethoven, and one for Brahms. Beethoven became forever the second B in popular music books.

The literature on Beethoven is immense. The basic catalogues are those by G. Kinsky and H. Halm, Das

Werk Beethovens: Thematisch-Bibliographisches Verzeichnis seiner sämtlichen vollendeten Kompositionen, publ. in Munich and Duisburg in 1955, and by W Hess, Verzeichnis der Gesamtausgabe veröffentlichten Werke Ludwig van Beethovens, publ. in Wiesbaden in 1957. Beethoven attached opus numbers to most of his works, and they are essential in a catalogue of his works.


ORCH.: 9 syms.: No. 1, in C major, op.21 (Vienna, April 2, 1800), No. 2, in D major, op.36 (1801–02; Vienna, April 5, 1803), No. 3, in E-flat major, op.55, Eroica (1803–04; Vienna, April 7, 1805), No. 4, in B-flat major, op.60 (1806; Vienna, March 5, 1807), No. 5, in C minor, op.67 (sketches from 1803; 1807–08; Vienna, Dec. 22, 1808), No. 6, in F major, op.68, Pastoral (sketches from 1803; 1808; Vienna, Dec. 22, 1808), No. 7, in A major, op.92 (1811–12; Vienna, Dec. 8, 1813), No. 8, in F major, op.93 (1812; Vienna, Feb. 27, 1814), and No. 9, in D minor, op.125, Choral (sketches from 1815–18; 1822–24; Vienna, May 7, 1824); also a fragment of a Sym. in C minor, Hess 298 from the Bonn period. Sketches for the 1st movement of a projected 10th Sym. were realized by Barry Cooper and performed under the auspices of the Royal Phil. Soc. in London on Oct. 18, 1988. incidental music: Overture to Collin’s Coriolan, in C minor, op.62 (1807; Vienna, March 1807); Egmont, op.84, to Goethe’s drama (with overture; 1809–10; Vienna, June 15, 1810); Die Ruinen von Athen, op.113, to Kotzebue’s drama (with overture; 1811; Pest, Feb. 10, 1812); Kônig Stephan, op.117, to Kotzebue’s drama (with overture; 1811; Pest, Feb. 10, 1812); Triumphal March in C major for Kuffner’s Tarpeja (March 26, 1813); music to Duncker’s drama Leonore Prohaska (1815); Overture in C major, op.124, to Meisl’s drama Die Weihe des Hauses (Vienna, Oct. 3, 1822).—Further overtures: 4 overtures written for the opera Leonore, later named Fidelio: Leonore No. 1, in C major, op.138 (1806–07; Feb. 7, 1828), Leonore No. 2, op.72a (1804–05; Vienna, Nov. 20, 1805), Leonore No. 3, op.72b (1805–06; Vienna, March 29, 1806), and Fidelio, op.72c (Vienna, May 26, 1814); Namensfeier in C major, op.115 (1814–15; Vienna, Dec. 25, 1815). Other Works For Orch. or Wind Band: 12 Minuets, WoO 7 (1795); 12 German Dances (1795); 12 Contredanses (1802?); March “fur die böhmische Landwehr’ in F major (1809); March in F major (1810); Polonaise in D major, WoO 21 (1810); Écossaise in D major (1810); Écossaise in G major (1(10); Wellingtons Sieg oder Die Schlacht bei Vittoria (also known as the Battle sym.), op.91 (1813; Vienna, Dec. 8, 1813); March in D major (1816); Gratulations-Menuet in E-flat major, WoO 3 (Nov. 3, 1822); March with Trio in C major (1822?). BALLET: Ritterballett (1790–91; Bonn, March 6, 1791); Die Geschôpfe des Prometheus, op.43 (overture, introduction, and 16 numbers; 1800–01; Vienna, March 28, 1801). Works For Solo Instruments and Orch.: Piano Concerto in E-flat major (1784); Romance in E minor for Piano, Flute, Bassoon, and Orch., Hess 13 (1786; only a fragment extant); Violin Concerto in C major (1790–92; only a portion of the 1st movement extant); Oboe Concerto in F major, Hess 12 (1792?–93?; not extant; only a few sketches survive); Rondo in B-flat major for Piano and Orch. (1793; solo part finished by Czerny); Piano Concerto No. 2, in B-flat major, op.19 (probably begun during the Bonn period, perhaps as early as 1785; rev. 1794–95 and 1798; Vienna, March 29, 1795; when publ. in Leipzig in 1801, it was listed as “No. 2”); Piano Concerto No. 1, in C major, op.15 (1795; rev. 1800; Vienna, Dec. 18, 1795; when publ. in Vienna in 1801, it was listed as “No. 1”); Romance in F major for Violin and Orch., op.50 (1798?; Nov. 1798?); Piano Concerto No. 3, in C minor, op.37 (1800?; Vienna, April 5, 1803); Romance in G major for Violin and Orch., op.40 (1801?–02); Triple Concerto in C major for Piano, Violin, Cello, and Orch., op.56 (1803–04; Vienna, May 1808); Piano Concerto No. 4, in G major, op.58 (1805–06; Vienna, March 1807); Violin Concerto in D major, op.61 (Vienna, Dec. 23, 1806; cadenza for the 1st movement and 3 cadenzas for the finale; also arranged as a piano concerto in 1807); Fantasia in C minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orch., op.80, Choral Fantasy (Vienna, Dec. 22, 1808); Piano Concerto No. 5, in E-flat major, op.73, “Emperor” (1809; Leipzig, 1810; 1st Vien-naperf., Nov. 28, 1811); also 11 cadenzas for piano concertos nos. 1–4, and 2 for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, in D minor, K. 466. CHAMBER: 3 piano quartets: E-flat major, D major, and C major (1785); Trio in G major for Piano, Flute, and Bassoon, WoO 37 (1786); Minuet in A-flat major for String Quartet, Hess 33 (1790); Piano Trio in E-flat major (1791); Allegretto in E-flat major for Piano Trio, Hess 48 (1790–92); Violin Sonata in A major, Hess 46 (1790–92; only a fragment is extant); Allegro and Minuet in G major for 2 Flutes (1792); Octet in E- flat major for 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns, and 2 Bassoons, op.103 (1792–93); Variations in F major on Mozart’s “Se vuoi ballare” from Le nozze di Figaro for Piano and Violin (1792–93); Rondino in E-flat major for 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns, and 2 Bassoons (1793); Quintet in E-flat major for Oboe, 3 Horns, and Bassoon, Hess 19 (1793); Rondo in G major for Piano and Violin (1793–94); String Trio in E-flat major, op.3 (1793; also arranged for Cello and Piano, op.64); 3 piano trios: E- flat major, G major, and C minor, op.l (1794–95); Trio in C major for 2 Oboes and English Horn, op.87 (1795); String Quintet in E-flat major, op.4 (1795; an arrangement of the Octet, op.103); Variations in C major on Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni for 2 Oboes and English Horn (1795); Sextet in E-flat major for 2 Horns, 2 Violins, Viola, and Cello, op.81b (1795); Sextet in E-flat major for 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns, and 2 Bassoons, op.71 (1796); Sonatina in C minor for Piano and Mandolin (1796); Adagio in E-flat major for Piano and Mandolin (1796); Sonatina in C major for Piano and Mandolin (1796); Andante and Variations in D major for Piano and Mandolin (1796); 6 German Dances for Piano and Violin (1796); 2 cello sonatas: F major and G minor, op.5 (1796); Variations in G major on Handel’s “See the Conquering Hero Comes” from Judas Maccabaeus for Piano and Cello (1796); Variations in F major on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weib-chen” from Die Zauberflöte for Piano and Cello, op.66 (1796); Quintet in E-flat major for Piano, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon, op.16(1796–97; also arranged for Piano and String Trio); Duet in E-flat major for Viola and Cello (1796–97); Serenade in D major for String Trio, op.8 (1796–97); Trio in B-flat major for Piano, Clarinet or Violin, and Cello, op. 11 (1797); 3 string trios: G major, D major, and C minor, op.9 (1797–98); 3 violin sonatas: D major, A major, and E-flat major, op. 12 (1797–98); March in B-flat major for 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns, and 2 Bassoons (1798); 6 string quartets: F major, G major, D major, C minor, A major, and B-flat major, op.18 (1798–1800); Septet in E-flat major for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass, op.20 (1799–1800); Horn (or Cello) Sonata in F major, op.17 (Vienna, April 18, 1800); Violin Sonata in A minor, op.23 (1800–01); Violin Sonata in F major, op.24, Spring (1800–01); Variations in E-flat major on Mozart’s “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” from Die Zauberflöte for Piano and Cello (1801); Serenade in D major for Flute, Violin, and Viola, op.25 (1801); String Quintet in C major, op.29 (1801); String Quartet in F major, Hess 34 (an arrangement of the Piano Sonata No. 9, in E major, op.14, No. 1; 1801–02); 3 violin sonatas: A major, C minor, and G major, op.30 (1801–02); 14 Variations in E-flat major for Piano, Violin, and Cello, op.44 (sketches from 1792; 1802?); Violin Sonata in A major, op.47, Kreutzer (1802–03; Vienna, May 24, 1803); Trio in E-flat major for Piano, Clarinet or Violin, and Cello, op.38 (an arrangement of the Septet, op.20; 1803); Variations in G major on Müller’s “Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu” for Piano, Violin, and Cello, op.l21a (1803?; rev. 1816); Serenade in D major for Piano, and Flute or Violin, op.41 (an arrangement of the Serenade in D major, op.25; 1803); Notturno in D major for Piano and Viola, op.42 (an arrangement of the Serenade in D major, op.8; 1803); 3 string quartets: F major, E minor, and C major, op.59, Razumovsky (1805–06); Cello Sonata in A major, op.69 (1807–08); 2 piano trios: D major and E-flat major, op.70 (1808); String Quartet in E-flat major, op.74, Harp (1809); String Quartet in F minor, op.95, Serioso (1810); Piano Trio in B-flat major, op.97, Archduke (1810–11); Violin Sonata in G major, op.96 (1812); Allegretto in B-flat major for Piano Trio (1812); 3 equali for 4 Trombones: D minor, D major, and B-flat major (1812); 2 cello sonatas: C major and D major, op.102 (1815); String Quintet in C minor, op.104 (an arrangement of the Piano Trio, op.l, No. 3; 1817); Prelude in D minor for String Quintet, Hess 40 (1817?); Fugue in D major for String Quintet, op.137 (1817); Movement from an unfinished string quartet (Nov. 28, 1817); 6 National Airs with Variations for Piano, and Flute or Violin, op.105 (1818?); 10 National Airs with Variations for Piano, and Flute or Violin, op.107 (1818); Duet in A major for 2 Violins (1822); String Quartet in E-flat major, op.127 (1824–25); String Quartet in A minor, op.132 (1825); String Quartet in B-flat major, op. 130 (with the Grosse Fuge as the finale, 1825; Rondo finale, 1826); Grosse Fuge in B-flat major for String Quartet, op.133 (1825); String Quartet in C-sharp minor, op.131 (1825–26); String Quartet in F major, op. 135 (1826); String Quintet in C major, Hess 41 (1826; extant fragment in piano transcription only). Piano Sonatas: E- flat major, F minor, and D major, Kurfürstensonaten (1783); F major (1792); No. 1, in F minor, op.2, No. 1 (1793–95); No. 2, in A major, op.2, No. 2 (1794–95); No. 3, in C major, op.2, No. 3 (1794–95); No. 19, in G minor, op.49, No. 1 (1797); No. 20, in G major, op.49, No. 2 (1795–96); No. 4, in E-flat major, op.7 (1796–97); No. 5, in C minor, op.10, No. 1 (1795–97); No. 6, in F major, op.10, No. 2 (1796–97); No. 7, in D major, op.10, No. 3 (1797–98); C major, WoO 51 (fragment; 1797–98); No. 8, in C minor, op.13, Pathétique (1798–99); No. 9, in E major, op.14, No. 1 (1798); No. 10, in G major, op.14, No. 2 (1799); No. 11, in B-flat major, op.22 (1800); No. 12, in A-flat major, op.26, Funeral March (1800–01); No. 13, in E-flat major, op.27, No. 1, “quasi una fantasia” (1800–01); No. 14, in C-sharp minor, op.27, No. 2, “quasi una fantasia,” Moonlight (1801); No. 15, in D major, op.28, Pastoral (1801); No. 16, in G major, op.31, No. 1 (1801–02); No. 17, in D minor, op.31, No. 2, Tempest (1801–02); No. 18, in E-flat major, op.31, No. 3 (1801–02); No. 21, in C major, op.53, Waldstein (1803–04); No. 22, in F major, op.54 (1803–04); No. 23, in F minor, op.57, Appassionata (1804–05); No. 24, in F-sharp minor, op.78 (1809); No. 25, in G major, op.79 (1809); No. 26, in E-flat major, op.81a, “Das Lebewohl, Abwesenheit und Wiedersehn”, also known by its French subtitle, “Les Adieux, l’absence, et le retour” (1809); No. 27, in E minor, op.90 (1814); No. 28, in A major, op.101 (1816); No. 29, in B-flat major, op.106, Hammerklavier (1817–18); No. 30, in E major, op.109 (1820); No. 31, in A-flat major, op.110 (1821); No. 32, in C minor, op.lll (1821–22). Variations For Piano: 9 Variations in C minor on a March by Dressier (1782); 24 Variations in D major on Righini’s Arietta “Venni amore” (1790–91); 13 Variations in A major on the Arietta “Es war einmal ein alter Mann” from Dittersdorf’s Das rote Kap-pchen (1792); 6 Variations in F major on a Swiss Song (1792?; also for Harp); 12 Variations on the “Menuet ä la Viganò” from Haibel’s Le nozze disturbate in C major (1795); 9 Variations in A major on the Aria “Quant’ è più bello” from Paisiello’s La molinara (1795); 6 Variations in G major on the Duet “Nel cor più non mi sento” from Paisiello’s La molinara (1795); 8 Variations in C major on the Romance “Une Fièvre brûlante” from Grétry’s Richard Coeur de Lion (1795?); 12 Variations in A major on a Russian Dance from Wranitzky’s Das Waldmadchen (1796–97); 10 Variations in B- flat major on the Duet “La stessa, la stessissima” from Salieri’s Falstaff (1799); 7 Variations in F major on the Quartet “Kind, willst du ruhig schlafen” from Winter’s Das unterbrochene Opferfest (1799); 6 Variations in F major on the Trio “Tandeln und Scherzen” from Sussmayr’s Soliman II (1799); 6 Variations in G major on an Original Theme (1800); 6 Variations in F major on an Original Theme, op.34 (1802); 15 Variations and a Fugue in E-flat major on an Original Theme, op.35, Eroica (1802); 7 Variations in C major on “God Save the King” (1803); 5 Variations in D major on “Rule Britannia” (1803); 32 Variations in C minor on an Original Theme (1806); 6 Variations in D major on an Original Theme, op.76 (1809); 33 Variations in C major on a Waltz by Diabelli, op.120 (1819; 1823). Other Works For Piano: Rondo in C major (1783); Rondo in A major (1783); 2 Preludes through All 12 Major Keys, op.39 (1789; also for Organ); Allemande in A major (1793); Rondo a capriccio in G major, op.129, “Rage over a Lost Penny” (1795); Fugue in C major, Hess 64 (1795); Presto in C minor (1795?); Allegretto in C minor (1796–97); Allegretto in C minor, Hess 69 (1796–97); Rondo in C major, op.51, No. 1 (1796?–97?); Rondo in G major, op.51, No. 2 (1798?); 7 Bagatelles: E-flat major, C major, F major, A major, C major, D major, and A-flat major, op.33 (1801–02); Bagatelle “Lustig-Traurig” in C major, WoO 54 (1802); Allegretto in C major (1803); Andante in F major, “Andante favori” (1803); Prelude in F minor (1804); Minuet in E-flat major (1804); Fantasia in G minor/B-flat major, op.77 (1809); Bagatelle “Für Elise” in A minor (1810); Polonaise in C major, op.89 (1814); Bagatelle in B-flat major (1818); Concert Finale in C major, Hess 65 (1820–21); Allegretto in B minor (1821); 11 Bagatelles: G minor, C major, D major, A major, C minor, G major, C major, C major, A minor, A major, and B-flat major, op.119 (1820–22); 6 Bagatelles: G major, G minor, E-flat major, B minor, G major, and E-flat major, op.126 (1823–24); Waltz in E-flat major (1824); Allegretto quasi andante in G minor (1825); Waltz in D major (1825); Écossaise in E-flat major (1825).—For Piano, 4-Hands: 8 Variations in C major on a Theme by Count Waldstein (1792); Sonata in D major, op.6 (1796–97); 6 Variations in D major on “Ich denke dein” (by Beethoven) (1799–1803); 3 Marches: C major, E-flat major, and D major, op.45 (1803?); an arrangement of the Grosse Fuge, op.133, as op.134 (1826). VOCAL: Opera: Fidelio, op.72 (1st version, 1804–05; Theater an der Wien, Vienna, Nov. 20, 1805; 2nd version, 1805–06; Theater an der Wien, March 29, 1806; final version, Kärnthnertortheater, Vienna, May 23, 1814); also a fragment from the unfinished opera Vestas Feuer, Hess 115 (1803). Singspiels: “Germania,” the finale of the pasticcio Die gute Nachricht (Kärnthnertortheater, April 11, 1814), and “Es ist vollbracht,” the finale of the pasticcio Die Ehrenpforten (Kärnthnertortheater, July 15, 1815). Choral.: Cantate auf den Tod Kaiser Joseph des Zweiten (1790); Cantate auf die Erhebung Leopold des Zweiten zur Kaiser-wurde (1790); oratorio, Christus am Oelberge, op.85 (Vienna, April 5, 1803; rev. 1804 and 1811); Mass in C major, op.86 (Eisenstadt, Sept. 13, 1807); Chor auf die verbündeten Fürsten “Ihr weisen Gründer” (1814); cantata, Der glorreiche Augenblick, op.136 (Vienna, Nov. 29, 1814); Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, op.112, after Goethe (1814–15; Vienna, Dec. 25, 1815); Mass in D major, op.123, Missa Solemnis (1819–23; St. Petersburg, April 7, 1824); Opferlied, “Die Flamme lodert” (1822; 2nd version, op.l21b, 1823–24); Bundeslied, “In alien guten Stunden,” op.122, after Goethe (1823–24); Abschiedsgesang, “Die Stunde schlágt” (1814); Cantata campestre, “Un lieto brindisi” (1814); Gesang der Monche, “Rasch tritt der Tod,” from Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell (1817); Hochzeitslied, “Auf Freunde, singt dem Gott der Ehen” (2 versions; 1819); Birthday Cantata for Prince Lobkowitz, “Es lebe unser theurer Fürst” (1823). Solo Voices and Orch.: Prüfung des Küssens “Meine weise Mutter spricht” for Bass (1790–92); “Mit Mädeln sich vertragen” from Goethe’s Claudine von Villa Bella for Bass (1790?–92); Primo amore, scena and aria for Soprano (1790–92); 2 arias: “O welch’ ein Leben” for Tenor and “Soll ein Schuh nicht drücken” for Soprano, for Umlauf’s Singspiel Die schöne Schusterin (1795–96); Ah, perfido!, scena and aria for Soprano from Metastasio’s Achille in Sciro, op.65 (1795–96); No, non turbarti, scena and aria for Soprano from Metastasio’s La tempesta (1801–02); “Ne’ giorni tuoi felici,” duet for Soprano and Tenor from Metastasio’s Olimpiade (1802–03); Tremate, empi, tremate for Soprano, Tenor, and Bass, op. 116 (1801–02; 1814); Elegischer Gesang: “Sanft wie du lebtest” for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, and String Quartet or Piano, op.118 (1814). Songs: More than 80, including the following: O care selve (1794); Opferlied (1794; rev. 1801–02); Adelaide, op.46 (1794–95); 6 Songs, op.48, after Gellert (1802); 8 Songs, op.52 (1790–96); An die Hoffnung, op.32 (1805); 6 Songs, op.75 (1809); 4 Ariettas and a Duet for Soprano and Tenor, op.82 (1809); 3 Songs, op.83, after Goethe (1810); Merkenstein, op.100 (1814–15); An die Hoffnung, op.94 (1815); 6 Songs: An die feme Geliebte, op.98 (1815–16); Der Mann von Wort, op.99 (1816); Der Kuss, op.128 (1822); arrangements of English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Italian, and other folk songs for voice, piano, violin, and cello; numerous canons; etc.


COLLECTED EDITIONS, SOURCE MATERIAL: L.v.B.’s Werke: Vollständige kritisch durchgesehene überall berechtigte Ausgabe, the first major ed. of his works, was publ. by Breitkopf & Härtel (series 1–24, Leipzig, 1862–65; 25 [suppl.], Leipzig, 1888). An extensive suppl. was ed. by W. Hess, L. v.B.: Samtliche Werke: Supplemente zur Gesamtausgabe (14 vols., Wiesbaden, 1959–71). A new critical éd., L. v.B.: Werke: Neue Ausgabe samtlicher Werke (Munich and Duisburg, 1961 et seq.), is being publ. by the Beethoven- Archiv of Bonn. J. Del Mar has ed. the invaluable New Bärenreiter Urtext Edition of the 9 syms. (9 vols., Kassel, 1996–2000).

The standard thematic and bibliographic index of all of Beethoven’s completed publ. works is to be found in G. Kinsky and H. Halm, Das Werk B.s: ThematischBibliographisches Verzeichnis seiner samtlichen vollendeten Kompositionen (Munich and Duisburg, 1955). An important supplement to this source is K. Dorfmüller, ed., Beitrage zur B.-Bibliographie: Studien una Materialien zum Werkverzeichnis von Kinsky-Halm (Munich, 1978). See also W. Hess, ed., Verzeichnis der nicht in der Gesamtaus-gabe veröjfentlichten Werke L. v.B.s (Wiesbaden, 1957), which lists missing works in the old Leipzig edition. Other sources include the following: The first valuable thematic catalogue, Thematisches Verzeichniss sämmtlicher im Druck erschienen Werke von L. v.B., was publ. by Breitkopf & Härtel (Leipzig, 1851); it was thoroughly rev. and enl. by G. Nottebohm and publ. as Thematisches Verzeichniss der im Druck erschienenen Werke von L. v.B. (Leipzig, 1868; new ed., together with Bibliotheca B.iana, by E. Kastner, Leipzig, 1913; 2nd ed. by T. von Frimmel, Leipzig, 1925); A. Thayer, Chronologisches Verzeichniss der Werke L. v.B.’s (Berlin, 1865); G. Adler, Verzeichniss der musikalischen Autographe von L. Besitze von A. Artaria in Wien (Vienna, 1890); A. Artaria, Verzeichnis von musikalischen Autographen...vornehmlich der reichen Be-stande aus dem Nachlasse...L. v.B.’s...(Vienna, 1893); W. Haas, Systematische Ordnung B.scher Melodien (Leipzig, 1932); J. Schmidt-Gòrg, Katalog der Handschriften des B.-Hauses und B.-Archivs Bonn (Bonn, 1935); A. Tyson, The Authentic English Editions of B. (London, 1963); G. Biamonti, Catalogo cronologico e tematico delle opere di B., comprese quelle inedite e gli abbozzi non utilizzati (Turin, 1968); P. Willets, B. and England: An Account of Sources in the British Museum (London, 1970); D. MacArdle, B. Abstracts (Detroit, 1973); H. Goldschmidt, éd., Zu B.: Aufsätze und Dokumente (Berlin, 1984); T. Albrecht, L.v. B.: A Guide to Research (N.Y., 1990); B. Cooper, ed., The B. Compendium: A Guide to B.’s Life and Music (N.Y., 1992); C. Reynolds, L. Lockwood, and J. Webster, eds., B. Forum (7 vols., Lincoln, Nebr., 1992–99).sketches and autographs: G. Nottebohm, Ein Skizzenbuch von B. (Leipzig, 1865) and Ein Skizzenbuch von B. aus dem Jahre 1803 (Leipzig, 1880). P. Mies republ. 2 of Nottebohm’s eds. as Zwei Skizzenbucher von B. aus den Jahren 1801 bis 1803 (Leipzig, 1924; Eng. tr. as Two B. Sketchbooks, London, 1979). W. Engelmann, éd., B.s eigenhandiges Skizzenbuch zur 9. Symphonie (facsimile; Leipzig, 1913); H. Mersmann, B.s Skizzen (Basel, 1924); P. Mies, Die Bedeutung der Skizzen B.s zur Erkenntnis seines Stiles (Leipzig, 1925; Eng. tr. as B.’s Sketches by D. Mackinnon, London, 1929); K. Mikulicz, Ein Notierungsbuch von B. aus dem Besitze der Preussischen Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (transcription of the sketchbook of 1800–01; Leipzig, 1927); J. Schmidt-Gòrg, B.: Drei Skizzenbucher zur Missa Solemnis (facsimile and transcription; Bonn, Vol. I, Ein Skizzenbuch aus den Jahren 1819/20 [1952]; Vol. II, Ein Skizzenbuch zum Credo [1970]; and Vol. Ill, Ein Skizzenbuch zum Benedictus [1970]); P. Mies, Textkritische Untersuchungen bei B. (Bonn, 1957); D. Weise, B.: Ein Skizzenbuch zur Chorfantasie op.80 und zu anderen Werken (transcription; Bonn, 1957); H. Unverricht, Die Eigenschriften und die Originalausgaben von Werken B.s in ihrer Bedeutung für die moderne Textkritik (Kassel, 1960); D. Weise, B.: Ein Skizzenbuch zur Pastoralsymphonie op.68 und zu den Trios op.70, 1 und 2 (transcription; Bonn, 1961); J. Schmidt-Görg, B.: Ein Skizzenbuch zu den Diabelli-Variationen und zur Missa Solemnis, SV 154 (facsimile and transcription; 2 vols., Bonn, 1968, 1972); D. Johnson, A. Tyson, and R. Winter, eds., The B. Sketchbooks (Berkeley, 1985). Conversation Books: D. MacArdle, An Index to B.’s Conversation Books (Detroit, 1962); K.-H. Kòhler et al, eds., L. v.B.s Konversation-shefte (10 vols., Leipzig, 1972–93). correspondence, notebooks, and other documents: L. Nohl, Briefe B.s (Stuttgart, 1865); idem, Neue Briefe B.s (Stuttgart, 1867); idem, B.’s Brevier (Leipzig, 1870; 2nd éd., 1901); idem, Die B.-Feier und die Kunst der Gegenwart (Vienna, 1871); A. Kalischer, éd., B.s samtliche Briefe (5 vols., Berlin and Leipzig, 1906–08; partial Eng. tr. by J. Shedlock, 2 vols., London and N.Y., 1909; T. von Frimmel edited a 2nd ed. of the German original, Berlin, 1908–11); F. Prelinger, éd., L. v.B.s samtliche Briefe und Aufzeich-nungen (5 vols., Vienna and Leipzig, 1907–11); E. Kastner, éd., L.v.B.s samtliche Briefe (Leipzig, 1910; 2nd ed. prepared by J. Kapp, Leipzig, 1923); A. Leitzmann, éd., B.s Persönlichkeit (2 vols., Leipzig, 1914; 2nd ed. as L v.B.: Berichte der Zeitgenossen, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1921); M. Unger, L. v.B. und seine Verleger, S. A. Steiner und Tobias Haslinger in Wien, Ad. Mart. Schlesinger in Berlin, ihr Verkehr und Briefwechsel (Berlin and Vienna, 1921); idem, B.s Handschrift (Bonn, 1926); O. Sonneck, B. Letters in America (N.Y., 1927); G. Kinsky, Die Handschriften zu B.s Egmont-Musik (Vienna, 1933); A. Klarer, ed., Briefe B.s und das Heiligen-stadter Testament (Zurich, 1944); H. Freiberger, L. v.B., Ein Bekenntnis, mit Briefen und Zeitdokumenten (Berlin, 1951); H. Müller von Asow, Heiligenstadter Testament (Faksimile) (Hamburg, 1952); D. Weise, éd., B.: Entwurf einer Denkschrift an das Appellationsgericht in Wien vom 18. Februar 1820 (Bonn, 1953); D. MacArdle and L. Misch, eds. and trs., New B. Letters (Norman, Okla., 1957); J. Schmidt-Görg, B. Dreizehn unbekannte Briefe an Josephine Grafin Deym geb. v. Brunsvik (facsimile; Bonn, 1957); E. Anderson, ed. and tr., The Letters of B. (3 vols., London, 1961); M. Braubach, éd., Die Stammbücher B.s und der Babette Koch. Faksimile (Bonn, 1970); K.-H. Köhler and G. Herre, eds., L. v.B.: Neun ausgewahlte Briefe an Anton Schindler (facsimile and transcription; Leipzig, 1971); S. Brandenburg, M. Staehelin et al., eds., L. v.B.: Der Briefwechsel mit dem Verlag Schott (Munich, 1985); S. Brandenburg, éd., B.s Tagebuch (Mainz, 1990); idem, éd., Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe: L.v. B. im Auftrag des B.-Hauses Bonn (8 vols., Munich, 1996 et seq.). Yearbooks, Handbooks, Studies: G. Nottebohm, B.’s Studien (Leipzig and Winterthur, 1873); T. von Frimmel, Neue B.iana (Vienna, 1888; 2nd éd., 1890); idem, B.-Studien (2 vols., Munich and Leipzig, 1905–06); T. von Frimmel, éd., B.-Jahrbuch (2 vols., Munich and Leipzig, 1908–09); idem, B.-Forschung, Lose Blatter (10 issues, Vienna and Mödling, 1911–25); L. Schiedermair, éd., Veröffentlichungen des B.-Hauses in Bonn (10 vols., Bonn, 1920–34); A. Sandberger, éd., NeuesB.-Jahrbuch (10 vols., Augsburg and Braunschweig, 1924–42); T. von Frimmel, B.-Handbuch (2 vols., Leipzig, 1926); P. Mies, J. Schmidt-Görg et al, eds., B.-Jahrbuch (Bonn, 1954 et seq.); P. Netti, B. Encyclopedia (N.Y., 1956; 2nd ed. as B. Handbook, N.Y., 1967); L. Misch, Neue B.- Studien (Bonn, 1967); E. Schenk, ed., B.-Studien (Vienna, 1970); A. Tyson, ed., B. Studies (N.Y., 1973 et seq.); H. Goldschmidt, ed., Zu B.: Aufsatze und Annotationen (Berlin, 1979); R. Winter and B. Carr, B., Performers, and Critics (Detroit, 1980). Biographical: J. Schlosser, L. v.B. (Prague, 1827; Eng. tr. as B.: The First Biography, 1827, 1996); F. Wegeler and F. Ries, Biographische Notizen über L. v.B. (Koblenz, 1838; Nachtrag by Wegeler, Koblenz, 1845; new ed. by A. Kalischer, Berlin and Leipzig, 1906); A. Schindler, Biographie von L. v.B. (Munster, 1840; new ed. by A. Kalischer, Berlin, 1909; Eng. tr. by I. Moscheles as The Life of B., London, 1841, and Boston, n.d. [1841]. The 1860 German ed., publ. in Münster, was tr. and edited by D. MacArdle under the title B. As J Knew Him, London and Chapel Hill, N.C., 1966); W von Lenz, B.: Eine Kunststudie (2 vols., Kassel, 1855; 2nd ed., Hamburg, 1860; new ed. by A. Kalischer, Berlin and Leipzig, 1908); A. Oulibicheff, B., Ses critiques et sesglossateurs (Leipzig and Paris, 1857); A. Marx, L. v.B. Leben und Schaffen (2 vols., Berlin, 1859); A. Thayer, L. v.B.s Leben (publ. in a German tr. from the Eng. MS by H. Deiters, 3 vols., Berlin, 1866, 1872, and 1877. After the author’s death, Deiters completed vols. IV and V from Thayer’s material, but also died before their publication. He had also rev. and enl. Vol. I, Leipzig, 1901. Deiters’s MS was rev. and ed. by H. Riemann, Vol. IV, Leipzig, 1907; Vol. V, Leipzig, 1908. Vols. II and III were then rev. and enl. by Riemann and publ. in Leipzig, 1910–11. He completed his task by reediting Vol. I, Leipzig, 1917. Thayer’s original Eng. MS was completed by H. Krehbiel and publ. as The Life of L. v.B., 3 vols., N.Y., 1921. It was in turn rev. by E. Forbes and publ. as Thayer’s Life of B., 2 vols., Princeton, N.J., 1964; rev. ed., 1967); L. Nohl, B.s Leben (publ. in various eds. and formats, Vienna and Leipzig, 1864–77; new ed. by P. Sakolowski, 3 vols., Berlin, 1909–13); G. von Breuning, Aus dem Schwarzspanierhause...(Vienna, 1874; rev. ed. by A. Kalischer, Berlin and Leipzig, 1907; Eng. tr. as Memories of B.: From the House of the Blackrobed Spaniards, 1992); L. Nohl, Eine stille Liebe zu B. (Leipzig, 1875; Eng. tr. as An Unrequited Love, London, 1876; 2nd Ger. ed., Leipzig, 1902); idem, B.: Nach den Schilderun–gen seiner Zeitgenossen (Stuttgart, 1877; Eng. tr. as B. as Depicted by His Contemporaries, London, 1880); W. von Wasielewski, L. v.B. (2 vols., Berlin, 1888; 2nd ed., 1895); T. von Frimmel, B. (Berlin, 1901; 6th ed., 1922); R. Rolland, B. (Paris, 1903); G. Fischer, B.: A Character Study (N.Y., 1905); F. Kerst, B. im eigenen Wort (Berlin and Leipzig, 1904; Eng. tr. by H. Krehbiel as B.: The Man and the Artist, as Revealed in His Own Words, N.Y., 1905); E. Walker, B. (London, 1905; 3rd ed., 1920); A. Kalischer, B. und seine Zeitgenossen (4 vols., Leipzig, n.d. [1908–10]); P. Bekker, B. (Berlin and Leipzig, 1911; Eng. tr. and adaptation by M. Bosman, London, 1925; new Ger. ed., 1927); V. d’Indy, B.: Biographie critique (Paris, 1911; Eng. tr. by T. Baker, Boston, 1913; 2nd French ed., 1927); F. Kerst, éd., Die Erinnerungen an B. (2 vols., Stuttgart, 1913; 2nd ed., 1925); W. Thomas-San-Galli, L. v.B. (Berlin, 1913); A. Hensel, B. Der Versuch einer musikphilosophischen Darstellung (Berlin, 1918); La Mara, B. und die Brunsviks (Leipzig, 1920); J.-G. Prod’homme, La Jeunesse de B....(Paris, 1921; new éd., 1927); W. Schweisheimer, B.s Leiden: Ihr Einfluss aufsein Leben und Schaffen (Munich, 1922); T. von Frimmel, B. im zeitgenössischen Bildnis (Vienna, 1923); W. Krug, B.s Vollendung (Munich, 1924); M. Reinitz, B. im Kampf mit dem Schicksal (Vienna, 1924); S. Ley, B.s Leben in authentischen Bildern und Texten (Berlin, 1925; 2nd ed., 1970); L. Schiedermair, Der Junge B. (Leipzig, 1925; 3rd ed., Wilhelmshaven, 1970); G. Adler, B.s Charakter (Regensburg, 1927); B. Bartels, B. (Hildesheim, 1927); A. de Hevesy, B.: Vie intime (Paris, 1926; Eng. tr. as B. the Man, London, 1927); S. Ley, B. als Freund der Familie Wegeler-von Breuning (Bonn, 1927); E. Newman, The Unconscious B.: An Essay in Musical Psychology (N.Y. and London, 1927; 2nd ed., 1969); A. Orel, B. (Vienna, 1927); J.- G.Prod’homme, B. raconte par ceux qui Vont vu (Paris, 1927); A. Schmitz, Das romantische B.bild (Berlin and Bonn, 1927); W. Turner, B., The Search for Reality (London, 1927; 2nd éd., 1933); R. van Aerde, Les Ancêtres flamands de B. (Malines, 1927); E. Closson, L’Élément flamand dans B. (Brussels, 1928; Eng. tr., London, 1934; 2nd Brussels éd., 1946); R. Rolland, B.: Les Grandes Époques créatrices (5 vols, in 7; Paris, 1928–57; in 1 vol. as Edition definitive, Paris, 1966; Eng. tr. of Ist 2 vols, by E. Newman as B. the Creator, N.Y., 1929, and Goethe and B., N.Y., 1931); R. Schauffler, B.: The Man Who Freed Music (N.Y. and London, 1929); E. Herriot, La Vie de B. (Paris, 1929; Eng. tr. as The Life of B., N.Y., 1935); A. Boschot, B.: La Musique et la vie (Paris, 1931); R. Specht, Bildnis B.s (Hellerau, 1931; Eng. tr., London, 1933); E. Brümmer, B.: Im Spiegel der zeitgenössischen rheinischen

Presse (Würzburg, 1932); J. Heer, Der Graf von Waldstein und sein Verhaltnis zu B. (Leipzig, 1933); E. Bücken, L. v.B. (Potsdam, 1934); E Howes, B. (London, 1933); M. Scott, B. (London, 1934; rev. ed. by J. Westrup, 1974); C. Carpenter, French Factors in B.’s Life (N.Y., 1935); W. Riezler, B. (Berlin and Zurich, 1936; 9th ed., 1966; Eng. tr., London, 1938); H. Schultz, L. v.B., Sein Leben in Bildern (Leipzig, 1936); H. Kesser, B. der Europaer (Zurich, 1937); H. von Hofmannsthal, B. (Vienna, 1938); R. Petzoldt, L. v.B.: Leben und Werk (Leipzig, 1938); A. Orel, Grillparzer und B. (Vienna, 1941); J. Burk, The Life and Works of B. (N.Y., 1943); E. Corti, B.-Anekdoten (Berlin, 1943); S. Ley, Aus B.s Erdentagen (Bonn, 1948); A. Pryce-Jones, B. (London, 1948); R. Petzoldt, L. v.B.: Sein Leben in Bildern (Leipzig, 1952; 7th éd., 1968); B. Bartels, B. und Bonn (Dinkelsbühl, 1954); S. Ley, B.: Sein Leben in Selbstzeugnissen, Briefen und Berichten (Vienna, 1954; 2nd éd., 1970); E. and R. Sterba, B. and His Nephew: A Psychoanalytical Study of Their Relationship (N.Y., 1954); W. Forster, B.s Krankheiten und ihre Beurteilung (Wiesbaden, 1955); S. Ley, Wahrheit, Zweifel und Irrtum in der Kunde von B.s Leben (Wiesbaden, 1955); W. Hess, B. (Zurich, 1956; 2nd ed., 1976); R. Bory, La Vie et l’oeuvre de L. v.B. (Paris, 1960; Eng. tr. as L. v.B.: His Life and His Work in Pictures, Zurich and N.Y., 1960); A. Boucoure-chliev, B. (Paris, 1963; 2nd éd., rev., 1976); J. Schmidt-Görg, B.: Die Geschichte seiner Familie (Bonn, 1964); J. and B. Massin, L. v.B. (Paris, 1967); G. Marek, B.: Biography of a Genius (N.Y., 1969); J. Schmidt-Görg and H. Schmidt, eds., L. v.B. (Bonn, 1969; Eng. tr., N.Y., 1970); M. Cooper, B.: The Last Decade, 1817–27 (London, 1970; 2nd éd., rev, 1985); H.C. Robbins Landon, B.: A Documentary Study (N.Y. and London, 1970; 2nd ed., rev, 1993 as B.: His Life, Work, and World); J. Schmidt-Görg, éd., Des Bonner Backer-meisters Gottfried Fischer Aufzeichnung ü’ber B.s Jugend (Bonn and Munich, 1971); F. Knight, B. and the Age of Revolution (London, 1973); M. Solomon, B. (N.Y., 1977; 2nd éd., rev, 1998); L. Finscher, L. v.B. (Darmstadt, 1983); R. James, B. (London, 1983); A. Orga, B. (Sydney, 1983); D. Matthews, B. (London, 1985); C. Dahlhaus, L. v.B. und seine Zeit (Laaber, 1987); F. Noli, B. and the French Revolution (Tirana, 1991); G. Jeanclaude, Un amour de B.: Marie Bigot de Morogues, pianiste (Strasbourg, 1992); K. Küster, B. (Stuttgart, 1994); S. Burnham, B. Hero (Princeton, 1995); H.-J. Irmen, B. in seiner Zeit (Zülpich, 1996); D. Wyn Jones, The Life of B. (Cambridge, 1998); A. Werner-Jensen, L.v. B. (Stuttgart, 1998). the immortal beloved: La Mara, B.s Unsterbli-che Geliebte: Das Geheimnis der Grafin Brunsvik und ihre Memoiren (Leipzig, 1909); W Thomas-San-Galli, Die unsterbliche Geliebte B.s: Lösung eines vielumstrittenen Problems (Halle, 1909); idem, B. und die unsterbliche Geliebte: Amalie Sebald/Goethe/Therese Brunsvik und Anderes (Munich, 1909); M. Unger, Auf Spuren von B.s “Unsterblicher Geliebten” (Langensalza, 1911); La Mara, B. und die Brunsviks (Leipzig, 1920); O. Sonneck, The Riddle of the Immortal Beloved (N.Y., 1927); K. Smolle, B.s unsterbliche Geliebte (Vienna, 1947); S. Kaznelson, B.s feme und unsterbliche Geliebte (Zurich, 1954); H. Goldschmidt, B.-Studien, 2: Urn die unsterbliche Geliebte (Leipzig, 1977); M.-E. Tellenbach, B. und seine “Unsterbliche Geliebte” Josephine Brunswick (Zurich, 1983); S. Brandenburg, B.: Der Brief an die Unsterbliche Geliebte (Bonn, 1986); G. Altman, B.: Man of His World: Undisclosed Evidence for His Immortal Beloved (Tallahassee, 1996). CRITICAL, ANALYTICAL: General: I. von Seyfried, éd., L. v.B.’s Studien im Generalbass, Contrapunct, und in der Compositionslehre (Vienna, 1832; Eng. tr. by H. Pierson, Leipzig, 1853; new Ger. eds. by G. Nottebohm, Leipzig, 1873, and L. Köhler, Leipzig, 1880); W. von Lenz, B. et ses trois styles (2 vols, in 1, St. Petersburg, 1852; new ed. by M.D. Calvocoressi, Paris, 1909); R. Wagner, B. (Leipzig, 1870; Eng. tr. by A. Parsons, N.Y., 1872; 3rd ed., 1883); G. Nottebohm, B.iana (Leipzig and Winterthur, 1872; 2nd ed., 1925); L. Nohl, B., Liszt, Wagner (Vienna, 1874); E. Mandyczewski, ed., Zweite B.iana (Leipzig, 1887; 2nd ed., 1925); D. Mason, B. and His Forerunners (N.Y., 1904; 2nd ed., 1930); H. Volkmann, Neues über B. (Berlin and Leipzig, 1904); F. Volbach, B. (Munich, 1905); R. Rolland, B. (N.Y., 1917; 6th éd., 1927); G. Becking, Studien zu B.s Personalstil: Das Scherzothetna (Leipzig, 1921); H. Mersmann, B.: Die Synthèse der Stile (Berlin, n.d. [1922]); A. Schmitz, B.s “zwei Prinzipe” (Berlin and Bonn, 1923); F. Cassirer, B. und die Gestalt: Ein Kommentar (Stuttgart, 1925); A. Halm, B. (Berlin, 1926); J.W.N. Sullivan, B.: His Spiritual Development (London, 1927; 2nd ed., 1936); T. Veidl, Der musikalische Humor bei B. (Leipzig, 1929); A. Schering, B. in neuer Deutung (Leipzig, 1934); idem, B. und die Dichtung (Berlin, 1936); idem, Zur Erkenntnis B.s: Neue Beitrage zur Deutung seiner Werke (Würzburg, 1938); K. Storck and M. Wiemann, Wege zu B. (Regensburg, 1938); J. Boyer, Le “Romantisme” de B. (Paris, 1939); L. Schrade, B. in France: The Growth of an Idea (New Haven, 1942); D. Tovey, B. (London, 1944); L. Misch, B.-Studien (Berlin, 1950; Eng. tr. as B. Studies, Norman, Okla., 1953); K. Schönewolf, B. in der Zeitenwende (2 vols., Halle, 1953); L. Ronga, Bach, Mozart, B.: Tre problemi critici (Venice, 1956); S. Ley, Aus B.s Erdentagen (Siegburg, 1957); L. Misch, Die Faktoren der Einheit in der Mehrsatzigkeit der Werke B.s (Munich and Duisburg, 1958); P. Netti, B. und seine Zeit (Hamburg, 1958); D. Arnold and N. Fortune, eds., The B. Reader (N.Y., 1971); T. Scherman and L. Biancolli, eds., The B. Companion (Garden City, N.Y., 1972); H. Goldschmidt, Die Erscheinung B. (Leipzig, 1974); idem, B.; Werkeinfuhrungen (Leipzig, 1975); I. Kolodin, The Interior B.: A Biography of the Music (N.Y., 1975); J. Crabbe, B.’s Empire of the Mind (Newbury, 1982); D. Greene, Temporal Processes in B.’s Music (N.Y., 1982); W. Mellers, B. and the Voice of God (London, 1983); L. Lockwood and P. Benjamin, eds., B. Essays: Studies in Honor of Elliot Forbes (Cambridge, Mass., 1984); G. Pestelli, The Age of Mozart and B. (Cambridge, 1984); R. Wallace, B.’s Critics: Aesthetic Dilemmas and Resolutions During the Composer’s Lifetime (Cambridge, 1986); M. Broyles, B.: The Emergence and Evolution of B.’s Heroic Style (N.Y., 1987); A. Comini, The Changing Image of B.: A Study in Mythmaking (N.Y., 1987); B. Cooper, B. and the Creative Process (Oxford, 1990); A. Boucourechliev, Essai sur B. (Aries, 1991); W. Kinderman, éd., B.’s Compositional Process (Lincoln, Nebr., 1991); L. Lockwood, B.: Studies in the Creative Process (Cambridge, Mass., 1992); R. Hatten, Musical Meaning in B.: Markedness, Correlation, and Interpretation (Bloomington, Ind., 1994); E. Rohmer, De Mozart en B.: Essai sur la notion de profondeur en musique (Arles, 1996); W. Caplin, Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and B. (N.Y., 1998). Orch. Music: G. Erlanger et al., B.s Symphonien erlautert (Frankfurt am Main, 1896); G. Grove, B.’s Nine Symphonies (London, 1884; enl. ed. as B. and His Nine Symphonies, London, 1896; 3rd ed., 1898); J.-G. Prod’homme, Les Symphonies de B. (Paris, 1906; 5th éd., 1949); F. Weingartner, Ratschlage für Aujführungen der Symphonien B.s (Leipzig, 1906; 2nd éd., 1916; Eng. tr., N.Y., n.d. [1907]); H. Schenker, B.s neunte Sinfonie (Vienna and Leipzig, 1912; 2nd ed., 1969; Eng. tr., 1992); E. Evans Sr., B.’s Nine Symphonies, fully described and analyzed (2 vols., London, 1923–24); H. Schenker, B.s Fünfte Sinfonie (Vienna, n.d. [1925]; 2nd ed., Vienna, 1970); D. Berg, B. and the Romantic Symphony (N.Y., 1927); J. Braunstein, B.s Leonore-Ouvertüren (Leipzig, 1927); K. Nef, Die neun Sinfonien B.s (Leipzig, 1928); J. Chantavoine, Les Symphonies de B. (Paris, 1932); E. Magni Dufflocq, Le sinfonie di B. (Milan, 1935); W. Osthoff, L. v.B.: Klavierkonzert Nr. 3, C-moll op.37 (Munich, 1965); R. Bockholdt, L. v.B., VI Symphonie F-dur, op.68, Pastorale (Munich, 1981); A. Hopkins, The Nine Symphonies of B. (London, 1981); L. Della Croce, L. v.B.: Le nove sinfonie e le altre opere per Orch. (Pordenone, 1986); M. Geck and P. Schleuning, Geschrieben auf Bonaparte: B.’s “Eroica”Revolution, Reaktion, Rezeption (Reinbekbei Hamburg, 1989); N. Cook, B.; Symphony No. 9 (Cambridge, 1993); M. Gielen and P. Fiebig, B. im Gesprach: Die neun Sinfonien (Stuttgart, 1995); D. Jones, B.: Pastoral Symphony (Cambridge, 1995); D. Levy, B.: The Ninth Symphony (N.Y., 1995); A. Hopkins, The Seven Concertos of B. (Aldershot, 1996); T. Sipe, B.: Eroica Symphony (Cambridge, 1998); R. Stowell, B.: Violin Concerto (Cambridge, 1998); L. Plantinga, B.’s Concertos: History, Style, Performance (N.Y., 1999). Chamber Music: T. Helm, B.s Streichquartette: Versuch einer technischen Analyse im Zusam-menhang mit ihrem geistigen Gehalt (Leipzig, 1885; 3rd éd., 1921); J. Matthews, The Violin Music of B. (London, 1902); H. Riemann, B.s Streichquartette erlautert (Berlin, 1910); S. Midgley, Handbook to B.’s Sonatas for Violin and Pianoforte (London, 1911); O. Rupertus, Erlauterungen zu B.s Violinsonaten (Cologne, 1915); H. Wedig, B.s Streichquartett op.18, 1 und seine erste Fassung (Bonn, 1922); J. Wetzel, B.s Violinsonaten, nebst den Romanzen und dem Konzert (Berlin, 1924); J. de Marliave, Les Quatuors de B. (Paris, 1925; Eng. tr. by H. Andrews, London, 1928); M. Herwegh, Technique d’interprétation sous forme d’essai d’analyse psychologique expérimentale appliqué aux sonates pour piano et violon de B. (Paris, 1926); W. Hadow, B.’s Op.lS Quartets (London, 1926); H. Mersmann, Die Kammermusik: Vol. II, B. (Leipzig, 1930); W. Engels-mann, B.s Kompositionsplâne dargestellt in den Sonatenfür Klavier und Violine (Augsburg, 1931); R. Giraldi, Analisi formale ed estetica dei primi tempi Quartetti Op.18 (Rome, 1933); G. Abraham, B.’s Second-Period Quartets (London, 1942); D. Mason, The Quartets of B. (N.Y., 1947); I. Mahaim, B.: Naissance et renaissance des derniers quatuors (2 vols., Paris, 1964); J. Szigeti, The Ten B. Sonatas for Piano and Violin (Urbana, 111., 1965); P. Radcliffe, B.’s String Quartets (London, 1965, and N.Y., 1968); J. Kerman, The B. Quartets (N.Y., 1967); H. Truscott, B.’s Late String Quartets (London, 1968); C. Wolff, éd., The String Quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and B.: Studies of the Autograph Manuscripts (Cambridge, Mass., 1980); M. Rostal, B.: The Sonatas for Piano and Violin: Some Thoughts on Their Interpretation (London, 1985); S. Brandenburg and H. Loos, eds., Beitrage zu B.s Kammermusik: Symposion Bonn 1984 (Munich, 1987); R. Winter and R. Martin, eds., The B. Quartet Companion (Berkeley, 1994); L. Ratner, The B. String Quartets: Compositional Strategies and Rhetoric (Stanford, 1995); S. Kurth, B.s Streichquintette (Munich, 1996); H.-M. Wang, B.s Violoncell- und Violinsonaten (Kassel, 1997). Piano Music: E. von Elterlein, B.s Klaviersonaten (Leipzig, 1856; 5th éd., 1895; Eng. tr., London, 1898); A. Marx, Anleitung zum Vortrag Beethovenscher Klavierwerke (Berlin, 1863; 4th éd., 1912); C. Rei-necke, Die Beethovenschen Klaviersonaten (Leipzig, 1873; Eng. tr., London, 1898); W. Nagel, B. und seine Klaviersonaten (2 vols., Langensalza, 1903–05; 2nd éd., 1923–24); H. Schenker, ed., Die letzten fünf Sonaten von B.: Kritische Ausgabe mit Einführung und Erlauterung (4 vols., Vienna, 1913–21; new éd., abr., 1971–72); H. Riemann, L. v.B.s samtliche Klavier-Solosonaten (3 vols., Berlin, 1919–20); S. Leoni, Le sonate per pianoforte di B. (Turin, 1922); W. Behrend, L. v.B.s klaversonater...(Copenhagen, 1923; Eng. tr. as L. v.B.’s Pianoforte Sonatas, London, 1927); F. Volbach, Erlauterungen zu den Klaviersonaten B.s (3rd éd., Cologne, 1924); A. Milne, B.: The Pianoforte Sonatas (London, 1925–28); I. Peters, B.s Klaviermusik (Berlin, 1925); J. Johnstone, Notes on the Interpretation of 24 Famous Pianoforte Sonatas by B. (London, 1927); D. Tovey, A Companion to B.’s Pianoforte Sonatas (Bar- to-Bar Analysis) (London, 1931); H. Westerby, B. and His Piano Works (London, 1931); H. Leichtentritt, The Complete Pianoforte Sonatasof B.. (N.Y., 1936); J.-G. Prod’homme, Les Sonates pour piano de B. (1782–1823) (Paris, 1937; 2nd éd., 1950); E. Blom, B.’s Pianoforte Sonatas Discussed (London, 1938); E. Fischer, L. v.B.s Klaviersonaten (Wiesbaden, 1956; 2nd ed., 1966; Eng. tr., 1959); R. Rosenberg, Die Klaviersonaten L. v.B.s (Olten, 1957); J. Cockshoot, The Fugue in B.’s Piano Music (London, 1959); R. Reti, Thematic Patterns in the Sonatas of B. (London, 1965); W. Newman, Performance Practices in B.’s Piano Sonatas: An Introduction (N.Y., 1971); A. Leicher-Olbrich, Untersuchungen zu Originalausgaben Beethovenscher Klavierwerke (Wiesbaden, 1976); A. Munster, Stu-dien zu B.s Diabelli- Variationen (Munich, 1982); G. Meyer, Untersuchungen zur Sonatensatzform bei L. v.B.: Die Kopfsatze der Klaviersonaten Op.79 und 110 (Munich, 1985); W. Kinderman, B.’s Diabelli Variations (N.Y., 1987); E. McKay, The Impact of the New Pianofortes on Classical Keyboard Style: Mozart, B. and Schubert (West Hagley, West Midlands, 1987); J. Goldstein, A B. Enigma: Performance Practice and the Piano Sonata, Opus 111 (N.Y., 1988); W. Newman, B. on B.: Playing His Piano Music His Way (N.Y. and London, 1989); G. Barth, The Pianist as Orator: B. and the Transformation of Keyboard Style (Ithaca, N.Y., 1992); M. Frohlich, B.’s “Appassionata” Sonata (Oxford, 1992); N. Marston, B.’s Piano Sonata in E, Op.109 (Oxford, 1995). Vocal and Choral Music: M. Bouchor, La Messe en ré de B. (Paris, 1886); M. Remy, Missa solemnis (Brussels, 1897); R. Sternfeld, Zur Ein-fù’hrung in L. v.B.s Missa solemnis (Berlin, 1900); H. de Curzon, Les Lieder et airs détachés de B. (Paris, 1905); W. Weber, B.s Missa solemnis (Leipzig, 1908); M. Kufferath, Fidelio de L. v.B. (Paris, 1913); M. Chop, L. v.B.: Missa solemnis geschichtlich und musikalisch analysiert (Leipzig, 1921); H. Böttcher, B.s Lieder (Berlin, 1927); idem, B. als Liederkomponist (Augsburg, 1928); J. Schmidt, Unbekannte Manuskripte zu B.s weltlichen und geistlichen Gesangmusik (Leipzig, 1928); F. Lederer, B.s Bearbeitungen schot-tischer und anderer Volkslieder (Bonn, 1934); A. Schering, B. und die Dichtung (Berlin, 1936); W Hess, B.s Oper Fidelio und ihre drei Fassungen (Zurich, 1953); idem, B.s Bù’hnenwerke (Gottingen, 1962); O. Zichenheiner, Untersuchungen zur Credo-Fuge der Missa Solemnis von L. v.B. (Munich, 1984); W Hess, Das Fidelio-Buch: B.s Oper Fidelio, ihre Geschichte und ihre drei Fassungen (Winter-thur, 1986); W. Drabkin, B.: Missa Solemnis (Cambridge, 1991); B. Cooper, B.’s Folksong Settings: Chronology, Sources, Style (Oxford, 1994); P. Robinson, éd., L.v. B.: Fidelio (Cambridge, 1996). Miscellaneous: A. Orel, éd., Ein Wiener B. Buch (Vienna, 1921); B.-Zentenarfeier internationaler musikhistorischer Kon-gress (Vienna, 1927); G. Bosse, éd., B.-Almanach der deutschen Musikbücherei (Regensburg, 1927); J. Levien, B. and the Royal Philharmonie Society (London, 1927); A. Schmitz, éd., B. und die Gegenwart (Berlin and Bonn, 1937); L. Bachmann, B. contra B.: Geschichte eines berühmten Rechtsfalles (Munich, 1963); S. Kross and H. Schmidt, eds., Colloquium Amicorum: Joseph Schmidt-Görg zum 70. Geburtstag (Bonn, 1967); R. Klein, Beethovenstatten in Österreich (Vienna, 1970); H. Sittner, éd., B.-Almanach 1970 (Vienna, 1970); K. Smolle, Wohnstatten L. v.B.s von 1792 bis zu seinem Tod (Munich and Duisburg, 1970); P. Lang, éd., The Creative World of B. (N.Y., 1971); H. Brockhaus and K. Niemann, eds., Bericht Uberden internationalen B.- Kongress 10.-12. Dezember 1970 in Berlin (Berlin, 1971); C. Dahlhaus et al, eds., Bericht über den internationalen musikwissenschaftlichen Kongress Bonn 1970 (Kassel, 1971); E. Schenk, éd., B.-Symposion Wien 1970 (Vienna, 1971); F. Slezak, B.s Wiener Originalverleger (Vienna, 1987); B. Bischoff, Monument fur B.: Die Entwicklung der B.-Rezeption Robert Schumanns (Cologne, 1994).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Ludwig van Beethoven

views updated May 29 2018

Ludwig van Beethoven

The instrumental music of the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) forms a peak in the development of tonal music and is one of the crucial evolutionary developments in the history of music as a whole.

The early compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven marked the culmination of the 18th-century traditions for which Haydn and Mozart had established the great classical models, and his middle-period and late works developed so far beyond these traditions that they anticipated some of the major musical trends of the late 19th century. This is especially evident in his symphonies, string quartets, and piano sonatas.

In each of these three genres Beethoven began by mastering the existing formal and esthetic conventions of the late 18th century while joining to these conventions signs of unusual originality and power. In his middle period (from about 1803, the year of the Eroica Symphony, to about 1814, the year of his opera Fidelio in its revised form) he proceeded to develop methods of elaboration of musical ideas that required such enlargement and alteration in perception of formal design as to render it clear that the conventions associated with the genres inherited from the 18th century were for him the merest scaffolding for works of the highest individuality and cogency.

If Beethoven's contemporaries were able to follow him with admiration in his middle-period works, they were left far behind by the major compositions of his last years, especially the last three Piano Sonatas, Op. 109, 110, and 111; the Missa solemnis; the Ninth Symphony; and the last six String Quartets, Op. 127, 130, 131, 132, 133, and 135. These works required more than a generation after Beethoven's death to be received at all by concert audiences and were at first the preserve of a few perceptive musicians. Composers as different in viewpoint from one another as Brahms and Wagner took Beethoven equally as their major predecessor; Wagner indeed regarded his own music dramas as the legitimate continuation of the Beethoven tradition, which in his view had exhausted the possibilities of purely instrumental music. Beethoven's last works continue in the 20th century to pose the deepest challenges to musical perception.

Years in Bonn

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, the Rhineland seat of an electoral court. His ancestors were Flemish (the "van" was no indication of any claim to nobility but merely part of the name). His father, a tenor in the electoral musical establishment, harbored ambitions to create in his second son a prodigy like Mozart. As Beethoven developed, it became increasingly clear that to reach artistic maturity he would have to leave provincial Bonn for a major musical center. At the age of 12 he was a promising keyboard virtuoso and a talented pupil in composition of the court musician C. G. Neefe.

In 1783 Beethoven's first published work, a set of keyboard variations, appeared, and in the 1780s he produced the seeds of a number of later works. But he was already looking toward Vienna: in 1787 he traveled there, apparently to seek out Mozart as a teacher, but was forced to return owing to his mother's illness. In 1790, when the eminent composer Joseph Haydn passed through Bonn, Beethoven was probably introduced to him as a potential pupil.

Years in Vienna

In 1792 Beethoven went to Vienna to study with Haydn, helped on his way by his friend Count Ferdinand von Waldstein, who wrote prophetically in the 22-year-old Beethoven's album that he was going to Vienna "to receive the spirit of Mozart from the hands of Haydn." What he actually received from Haydn in lessons was little enough, and Beethoven turned to others of lesser talent in Vienna for help with counterpoint, including the contrapuntal theorist J. G. Albrechtsberger.

Beethoven rapidly proceeded to make his mark as a brilliant keyboard performer and improviser and as a gifted young composer with a number of works to his credit and powerful ambitions. He won entry into the musical circles of the Viennese titled upper classes and gained a number of lifelong friends and admirers among them. In 1795 his first mature published works appeared—the three Piano Trios, Op. 1—and his career was in effect officially launched. From then until the end of his life Beethoven was essentially able to publish his works at approximately the rate at which he could compose them, if he wished to; in consequence the opus numbers of his major works are, with a few trivial exceptions, the true chronological order of his output. No such publication opportunities had existed for Haydn or Mozart, and least of all for Schubert, who spent his entire life in Vienna (1797-1828) in Beethoven's shadow, from the publication standpoint.

From 1792 to his death in 1827 at the age of 57 Beethoven lived in Vienna, essentially as a private person, unmarried, amid a circle of friends, independent of any kind of official position or private service. He rarely traveled, apart from summers in the countryside. In 1796 he made a trip to northern Germany, perhaps to look over the possibilities for a post; his schedule included a visit to the Berlin court of King Frederick William of Prussia, an amateur cellist, and the Op. 5 Violoncello Sonatas appear to date from this trip. Later Beethoven made several trips to Budapest and to spas in Bohemia.

In 1808 Beethoven received an invitation to become music director at Kassel. This alarmed several of his wealthy Viennese friends into unprecedented generosity; three of them (Princes Lichnowsky and Kinsky and Archduke Rudolph) formed a group of backers and agreed to guarantee Beethoven an annual salary of 1, 400 florins on condition that he remain in Vienna. He thus became, in principle, one of the first musicians in history to be freed form menial service and to be enabled potentially to live as an independent artist-although, as it happened, the uncertain state of the Austrian economy in the Napoleonic era caused a sharp devaluation of the currency, cutting the value of his annuity, and he also had some trouble collecting it.

Publishing Practices of the Time

Although publishers sought Beethoven out and he was an able manager of his own business affairs, as his letters show, he was really at the mercy of the chaotic and unscrupulous publishing practices of his time. Publishers paid a fee to composers for rights to their works, but neither copyright nor royalties were known. As each new work appeared, Beethoven sold it as dearly as he could to the best and most reliable current publisher (sometimes to more than one). But this initial payment was all he could expect, and both he and his publisher had to contend with piracy by rival publishers who brought out editions of their own. Consequently, Beethoven witnessed a vast multiplication of his works in editions that were unauthorized, unchecked, and often unreliable in details. Even the principal editions were frequently no better, and several times during his life in Vienna, Beethoven hatched plans for a complete, authorized edition of his works. None of them materialized, and the wilderness of editions forms the historical background to the present problems of producing a truly scrupulous complete edition.

Personal Problems

Far overshadowing these general conditions were the two particular personal problems that beset Beethoven, especially in later life: his deafness and his obsessive relationship with his nephew Karl. Beethoven began to suffer from deafness during his early years in Vienna, and his condition gradually grew worse, despite remissions. So severe was the problem as early as 1802 that he actually seems to have contemplated suicide, as can be inferred from the so-called Heiligenstadt Testament, a private document written that year. It shows clear evidence of his deep conflict over his sense of artistic mission and his fear of inability to hear normally, to use the sense that should have been his most effective and reliable one. The turning points in his deafness actually came only later: first, about 1815, when he was compelled to give up all hope of performing publicly as a pianist (his Fifth Piano Concerto was written in 1809, an unfinished concerto in 1815); and after 1818, when he was no longer able to converse with visitors, who were thus forced to use writing pads to communicate (the famous "Conversation Books").

The second overriding problem (apart from his lifelong inability to form a lasting attachment to one woman, despite many liaisons) arose when he became the guardian of his nephew Karl on the death of his brother in 1815. Karl proved to be erratic and unstable, and he was a continuing source of anxiety to an already vulnerable man.

Beethoven's deafness and his undoubted tendency toward impetuousness and irascibility contributed to his reputation as a misanthropic and antisocial personality, one to be watched from afar and approached only with caution. As he retreated further into his work and as the works themselves became increasingly less comprehensible to his average contemporaries, the Vienna of light music and Gemütlichkeit saw him more and more as a kind of living embodiment of the artist beyond society. Later, as writers of the 19th century continued to cultivate this view of art, Beethoven became one of its mythical representatives, and his earlier biographers spread the image widely. Only by a careful reading of Beethoven's letters and the winnowing of reliable accounts from fanciful ones can one obtain a more balanced picture, in which one sees a powerful and self-conscious man, wholly engaged in his creative pursuits but alert to their practical side as well, and occasionally willing to conform to current demands (for example, the works written on commission, such as his cantata for the Congress of Vienna, 1814).

Beethoven's deafness was the major barrier to a continued career as the social lion of his early Vienna years, and it must inevitably have colored his personality deeply. But his complex development as an artist would probably in any event have sooner or later brought a crisis in his relationship to the surface of contemporary musical and social life. The trend was inward: in his early years he wrote as a virtuoso pianist-composer for an immediate and receptive public; in his second period he wrote for an ideal public; in his last years he wrote for himself.

It has long been commonplace in Beethoven biography to stress his awareness of contemporary political and philosophical thought, particularly his attachment to the libertarian ideals of the French Revolution and his faith in the brotherhood of men as expressed in his lifelong ambition to compose a setting of Friedrich Schiller's " Ode to Joy, " realized at last in the Ninth Symphony. Frequently emphasized too is his undoubtedly genuine love of nature and outdoor life. But it is equally clear that no worthwhile estimate of Beethoven can be founded on a simple equation of these personal ideals with his music. In the Sixth Symphony (the Pastoral), Beethoven after great efforts found titles to suggest the allusions intended for each of the movements but sternly added in his sketchbook: "More the expression of feelings than tone painting." And in the Ninth Symphony he diligently sought the most effective way to introduce the vocal movement (the finale) with Schiller's words, at last hitting on the complex scheme of an introduction that reintroduces the thematic material of the earlier movements, rejects each in turn, and then opens the way to the finale through an explicit prefiguration of the theme to which the first stanza of the ode is to be set. In short, Beethoven's preoccupations from first to last were primarily those of musical structure and expression, and as more becomes known of his inner biography, as seen in his sketchbooks, a much more satisfactory portrait will be possible.

Brief Summary of Beethoven's Works

The general pattern of Beethoven's development as a composer is from a brilliant and prolific early manhood to the slow, painstaking efforts of his later years, in which his rate of production of new works dropped sharply in precise proportion as the works themselves became vastly more complex. The longest continuous thread in his development is that of his sketchbooks, which he used assiduously throughout his career and kept carefully, long after their contents had apparently been fully spent. This was not due to mere self-consciousness and an evident desire to keep close track of his own development; in this way he maintained a usable store of potential ideas and means of elaboration. Sometimes an idea from earlier years crops up in later work; in addition, Beethoven was strongly given to revision as well as elaboration, and at times he could not resist carrying out several modes of developing a single thematic idea. One example is the subject of the finale of the Eroica Symphony, which also appears as an orchestral dance and as the basis for a powerful set of piano variations, Op. 35. Other wholesale revisions of finished works include the three overtures to his opera Leonore, as well as the opera itself (first version 1805, second 1806), revised again and called Fidelio (1814) with still another overture.

First Period

The division of Beethoven's career into three phases originated with A. Schindler and W. von Lenz in the mid-19th century and forms a convenient means of reference. The first period, extending from his beginnings in Bonn to about 1802, shows a wide spectrum of compositions in virtually every genre of the time. The major works of this phase are the First and Second Symphonies, the first three Piano Concertos (written for his own performance and withheld from publication for some years), the first six String Quartets (Op. 18), much piano chamber music, and more than half of the 32 Piano Sonatas. The piano plays a conspicuous role in Beethoven's early work, reflecting his dual ambition as composer and performer, and as an instrument it was his major vehicle for technical experimentation. He was the first to exploit a number of pianistic effects, such as the pedal and the use of registral extremes, in a way that foreshadowed much in later piano music.

In Beethoven's early works one can distinguish two extremes: at one extreme are compositions that lean strongly toward a deliberate note of popular appeal; at the other extreme are the most serious and inwardly developed compositions. To the first group belongs, above all, the Septet for mixed string and wind instruments, easily his most popular early work, republished many times in various arrangements and written to emulate the facile 18th-century "serenade" or "divertimento." Typical of the second group are the carefully wrought String Quarters of Op. 18, the first two Symphonies, and the most elaborate of the Piano Sonatas (for example, Op. 13, the Pathétique; Op. 27, Nos. 1 and 2; and the three Sonatas of Op. 31). Some of the chamber music leans to one extreme, some to the other; a work that leans to both is the Clarinet Trio, Op. 11, of which the first two movements are fully serious and the finale a light set of variations on a popular tune.

Many early Beethoven works employ the principle of formal structure associated with the classical variation technique. This emphasis in the early Beethoven is extremely significant; it relates to his talent for improvisation, suggests his sense of contact with popular music, and at the same time prefigures his later growth in the direction of the elaboration of inherently simple musical ideas. Throughout his career Beethoven never lost sight of the possibilities inherent in the variation form, of which the final expression in his work may be seen in the Diabelli Variations for Piano, Op. 120.

Second Period

The works of Beethoven's middle years form an extraordinary procession of major compositions, entirely departing from the traditional proportions and, to some extent, the methods of earlier tonal music. The earlier "facile" level of composition is abandoned, and occasional regressions to earlier types of movement structure are suppressed (for example, the substitution of a conventional slow movement by a tightly compressed slow introduction to the finale in the Waldstein Piano Sonata, Op. 53). Even the most superficial view of Beethoven's new scheme of musical design must include the following observations. He works now with the intensive elaboration of single ideas, to an extent never previously attempted in classical instrumental music (for example, the first movement of the Fifth Symphony). He extends the time scale of the three-or four-movement formal scheme to a high degree (for example, the Eroica Symphony, the unusual length of which was noted by the composer on his autograph manuscript). He replaces the old third movement of the symphony and the quartet (minuet or other medium-tempo dance form) with a dynamic and rapid movement, always called scherzo (this had already been done in early works). He brings about the dramatization of instrumental effects and musical components to an unprecedented degree, partly through the juxtaposition of strongly dissimilar musical ideas, partly through the ingenious use of means of establishing expectations of a particular kind and then either delaying them or turning in an unexpected direction (for example, the first movement of the Appassionata Sonata, Op. 57, in which no full resolution of a cadence on to the tonic is permitted until the end of the movement; the opening of the Rasumovsky Quartet, Op. 59, No. 3; and the dramatic use of silence, as in the opening of the Coriolanus Overture, Op. 62).

If Beethoven's second period of development is taken to run from approximately Op. 53 (the Waldstein Sonata) to Op. 97 (the Archduke Trio) or to Fidelio, it includes the Third through Eighth Symphonies; the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos; the Quartets of Op. 59, 74, and 95; the two last Violin Sonatas, Op. 47 (Kreutzer) and Op. 96; the Violoncello Sonata, Op. 69; the Piano Trios, Op. 70 and 97; the Piano Sonatas from Op. 53 to Op. 90; and the opera Leonore (Fidelio). He also wrote a large number of songs and a remarkable Mass in C Major, Op. 86.

The last works that can be associated with this phase of activity issue onto a period of cessation of continuous composition—a kind of twilight area that separates the second period from the last and reaches from about 1815 to perhaps 1818. It marks the onset of Beethoven's extreme deafness and of his difficulties with his nephew but also the preparation for musical tasks of unparalleled complexity in this time.

Third Period

To attempt to characterize any truly significant aspects of Beethoven's last works in a few words would be beyond effrontery. The order of their composition is essentially the order of publication and thus of their opus numbers; and the great peaks of the last years are hedged in and about with a few smaller works tossed off to make money or to maintain the interest of avaricious publishers.

The procession of great monuments is essentially as follows: the last five Piano Sonatas (Op. 101, 106 called the Hammerklavier, 109, 110, and 111) written between 1815 and 1822; the Missa solemnis (1823); the Ninth Symphony (prefigured as early as 1815 and completed in 1824); and the last Quartets (from 1824 to 1826). Superficially obvious in these works is either vast expansion over the dimensions of even Beethoven's earlier works in the genre (for example, Ninth Symphony; the Missa solemnis; the Hammerklavier Sonata; and the Quartet, Op. 131) or extreme compression (for example, Op. 111, the last Piano Sonata, in two movements; and the Quartet, Op. 135). Obvious too is the renewed emphasis on fugal techniques, reflecting a lifelong desire to master the devices of tonal polyphony on a level to match that of Johann Sebastian Bach, whom Beethoven admired. The fugal movements include those in the Piano Sonatas, Op. 106 and 110; the Missa solemnis; the Ninth Symphony (parts of the scherzo and finale); and above all the Grand Fugue, Op. 133, originally designed as the finale for the Quartet, Op. 130, but then made a separate composition, with a new finale written for Op. 130.

The vastness and imaginative complexity of Beethoven's last works, especially the Quartets, baffled not only his contemporaries but later audiences and even professional musicians for some time after his death. In various ways they seem the fully logical outcome of a lifetime of deep exploration of the possibilities of tonal structure; in other ways they seem to exceed in depth almost any of Beethoven's other music and perhaps that of any other subsequent composer. That Beethoven himself was aware that they were beyond the capacities of the listeners of his time seems beyond doubt; that he expected later audiences to meet them with the requisite seriousness of interest and intent is, to judge from what is known of his character, a fair inference. An anecdote, perhaps apocryphal but entirely fitting, reports that Beethoven told a visitor who was bewildered by his last quartets, "They are not for you but for a later age."

Further Reading

The largest published collection of Beethoven's letters is Emily Anderson, ed. and trans., Letters (3 vols., 1961). A valuable selection of letters is J. S. Shedlock, Beethoven's Letters: A Critical Edition (2 vols., 1909). An important volume of little-known letters was edited and translated by Donald W. MacArdle and Ludwig Misch, New Beethoven Letters (1957). A large number of Beethoven's "Conversation Books, " the records of conversations between the composer and his associates and visitors during his last years, when his deafness had made normal discourse impossible, were in course of publication as of 1971 under the editorship of Karl-Heinz Köhler.

The most important contributions to Beethoven biography were produced in 19th-century Germany. Beethoven as I Knew Him (1840; trans. 1966) was written by a friend, Anton Schindler; his personal knowledge partially atones for his limited objectivity. The most authoritative biography is Alexander W. Thayer, The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven (trans., 3 vols., 1921; rev. ed. by Elliot Forbes, 2 vols. 1964). See also Walter Riezler, Beethoven (1938). Full-length introductory studies of Beethoven's work include Sir George P. Grove, The Symphonies of Beethoven (1884; 3d ed. entitled Beethoven and His Nine Symphonies, 1962); Donald F. Tovey, A Companion to Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas (1931) and his Beethoven (1944); Eric Blom, Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas Discussed (1938); Joseph de Marliave, Beethoven's Quartets (trans. 1961); and Joseph Kerman, The Beethoven Quartets (1967). See also Paul Mies, Beethoven's Sketches: An Analysis of His Style Based on a Study of His Sketch-Books (1929). □

Beethoven, Ludwig van

views updated May 14 2018

Beethoven, Ludwig van (b Bonn, 1770; d Vienna, 1827). Ger. composer and pianist who radically transformed every mus. form in which he worked. His paternal family were of Flemish stock, his grandfather having emigrated to Bonn where he became Court Singer to the Elector. Beethoven's father also became Court Singer, but was a coarse, drunken man, hopeful of exploiting his 2nd child Ludwig's mus. talents. Beethoven's early mus. education came from his father and several mediocre teachers. In 1779 he became a pupil of Christian Gottlob Neefe and his ass. as court organist in 1784. In 1786 he visited Vienna and may have extemporized for Mozart. On return to Bonn he found an understanding patron in Count Waldstein. For 4 years he was a violist in the court th. orch. in addition to other duties. In 1792 Haydn, visiting Bonn, saw some of Beethoven's early comps. and invited him to study with him in Vienna. There, despite his brusque and often uncouth manner, he was patronized by the aristocracy and lived for 2 years (1794–6) in the home of Prince Lichnowsky. His fame was entirely that of a virtuoso improviser at the kbd. Lessons from Haydn proved unsatisfactory and Beethoven went for theory to Schenk and later to Albrechtsberger and Salieri. His Op.1, 3 pf. trios, was pubd. 1795 and had immediate success.

Apart from occasional visits to the countryside Beethoven passed the rest of his life in Vienna. For 30 years he prod. mus. of all kinds in a steady flow. His first public appearance in Vienna was as soloist in his B♭ major pf. conc. in 1795. His 3rd Symphony (the Eroica), besides being a work of revolutionary import because it greatly extended the possibilities of symphonic form, was significant because it was originally ded. to Napoleon Bonaparte. Beethoven erased the dedication when he heard that Napoleon had proclaimed himself emperor. In 1805 his only opera Fidelio, originally called Leonore, was performed but withdrawn for rev. after 3 perfs. and given the following year in a 2-act version. His 5th and 6th (Pastoral) Syms. were f.p. at the same concert in 1808 and the 7th appeared in 1813, the year before the successful prod. of the further rev. Fidelio. In 1817 and 1818 he began work on his 9th Sym., which departed from all precedent by including a choral finale for solo vv., ch., and orch., and the Missa Solemnis. These were perf. in 1824. From 1824 to 1826 he comp. the last 5 of his 17 str. qts.

Beethoven's mus. may have sometimes been misunderstood in his lifetime but it was never neglected. However, his personal eccentricities and unpredictability were to grow, principally because of his discovery in 1798 that he was going deaf. It was not until 1819 that conversation with him was possible only by writing in a notebook, but in the intervening 20 years his affliction, though it varied in intensity, steadily worsened. Perhaps this is also why he never married, though he loved several women, and one in particular, the still unidentified ‘Immortal Beloved’ ( Maynard Solomon, in his Beethoven, 1977, gives convincing but not incontrovertible reasons for believing that she was Antonie Brentano, wife of a Frankfurt merchant. She lived from 1780 to 1869. Beethoven dedicated the Diabelli Variations to her.) An indication of the esteem in which Beethoven was held is that in 1815 Vienna conferred its honorary freedom on him. When he died, his funeral at Währing was a nat. occasion. His grave is now in the Central Friedhof, Vienna.

Beethoven's significance in the history and development of mus. is immense. He emancipated and democratized the art, composing out of spiritual inner necessity rather than as provider of virtuoso display material. He was not a quick or facile worker—his sketchbooks show how he laboriously developed an idea from sometimes banal beginnings to the final version. His mastery of structure and of key relationships was the basis on which he worked a revolution in the handling of sonata-form. It is to Beethoven that we owe the full emergence of the symphony as a repository for a composer's most important ideas. He expanded the coda from a formal conclusion to a climactic splendour; he transformed the minuet into the tempestuous, exultant scherzo; he was the first to use ‘motto-themes’ as a consistent formal device. In his slow movements, mus. expressed a mystical exaltation which even Mozart had never approached. In the str. qt. and the pf. sonata also, Beethoven extended the medium to a vastly increased technical and expressive degree (though in the case of the pf. it was not until his last sonatas that his technical use of the instr. went beyond that of his predecessors). It is probably true to say that today his mus. is the most frequently performed of any composer's.

Among the most important of his many comps. are:OPERA: Fidelio, Op.72 (1805, rev. 1806 and 1814).SYMPHONIES: No.1 in C, Op.21, comp. 1799–1800, f.p. Vienna, 2 April 1800, cond. P. Wranitzky; pubd. 1801. No.2 in D, Op.36, comp. 1801–2, f.p. Vienna, 5 Apr. 1803, cond. Beethoven; pubd. 1804. No.3 in E♭ (Eroica), Op.55, comp. 1803–4, Vienna, 7 Apr. 1805; pubd. 1806. No.4 in B♭, Op.60, comp. 1806, Vienna, 15 Nov. 1807, cond. Clement; pubd. 1808. No.5 in C minor, Op. 67, comp. 1804–8, f.p. Vienna, 22 Dec. 1808, cond. Beethoven; pubd. 1809. No.6 in F (Pastoral), Op.68, comp. 1807–8, f.p. Vienna, 22 Dec. 1808, cond. Beethoven; pubd. 1809. No.7 in A, Op.92, comp. 1811–12, f.p. Vienna, 8 Dec. 1813, cond. Beethoven; pubd. 1816. No.8 in F, Op.93, comp. 1812, f.p. Vienna, 27 Feb. 1814, cond. Beethoven; pubd. 1816. No.9 in D minor (Choral), Op.125, comp. 1817–23, f.p. Vienna, 7 May 1824, cond. Beethoven; pubd. 1826. Battle Symphony, Op.91, comp. 1813, f.p. Vienna, 8 Dec. 1813, cond. Beethoven; pubd. 1816.CONCERTOS: Piano: E♭ (1783); No.1 in C, Op.15 (really No.2 in order of comp.), comp. 1795–8, f.p. (presumed) Vienna, 2 April 1800, soloist Beethoven, cond. Wranitzky; pubd. March 1801. No.2 in B♭, Op.19 (really No.1 in order of comp.), comp. 1794–5, f.p. Vienna, 29 Mar. 1795, soloist Beethoven; pubd. Dec. 1801. No.3 in C minor, Op.37, comp. 1800–1, f.p. Vienna, 5 Apr. 1803, soloist Beethoven; pubd. 1804. No.4 in G, Op. 58, comp. 1805–6, f.p. Vienna, 22 Dec. 1808, soloist Beethoven; pubd. 1808. No.5 in E♭ (nicknamed ‘Emperor’ but not by Beethoven), Op.73, comp. 1809, f.p. Leipzig, Dec. 1810, soloist F. Schneider, f. Vienna p. 12 Feb. 1812, soloist Czerny; pubd. 1811. Vn. conc., Op.61, arr. for pf. by Beethoven in 1807 and pubd. 1808. Violin: vn. conc. in D, Op.61, comp. 1806, f.p. Vienna, 23 Dec. 1806, soloist Franz Clement; pub. 1809. Piano, violin, and cello: triple conc. in C, Op.56, comp. 1804, f.p. 1808; pubd. 1807.ORCHESTRAL (excl. Syms. & Concs.): Overtures: Coriolan, Op.62 (1807); Die Weihe des Hauses (Consecration of the House), Op.124 (1822); Leonora No.1, Op.138 (1805), Leonora No.2 (1805), Leonora No.3 (1806); Fidelio (1814). For details see under Fidelio; Overture and 9 items of incidental mus. for Egmont (Goethe), Op.84 (1809–10); Overture and 8 items of incidental mus. for Die Ruinen von Athen (Kotzebue), Op.113 (1811); Overture and 9 items of incidental mus. for König Stephan (Kotzebue), Op.117 (1811); Ov. in C (Namensfeier), Op.115 (1814–15); Ov., introduction, and 16 Nos. for ballet Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, Op.43 (1800–1).PIANO SONATAS (32 in number): Nos. 1, 2 and 3, Op.2, No.1 in F minor, No.2 in A major, No.3 in C major (1794–5); No.4, Op.7, in E♭, (1796); Nos. 5, 6 and 7, Op.10, No.1 in C minor, No.2 in F major, No.3 in D major (1798); No.8, Op.13, Pathétique in C minor (1799); Nos. 9 and 10, Op.14, No.1 in E major, No.2 in G major (1799); No.11, Op.22, in B♭ (1800); No.12, Op.26, in A♭ (1800–1); Nos. 13 and 14, Op.27, No.1 in E♭, No.2 in C♯ minor (Moonlight), both described as quasi una fantasia (1800–1); No.15, Op.28, in D major (Pastoral) (1801); Nos. 16, 17 and 18, Op.31, No.1 in G major, No.2 in D minor, No.3 in E♭ (1801–2); Nos. 19 and 20, Op.49, No.1 in G minor, No.2 in G major (1802); No.21, Op.53, in C major (Waldstein) (1804); No.22, Op.54, in F major (1804); No.23, Op.57, in F minor (Appassionata) (1804–5); No.24, Op.78, in F♯ major (1809); No. 25, Op.79, Sonatina in G major (1809); No.26, Op.81a, in E♭ (Lebewohl, usually known as Les Adieux) (1809–10); No.27, Op.90, in E minor (1814); No.28, Op.101, in A major (1816); No.29, Op.106, in B♭ (Hammerklavier) (1817–18); No.30, Op.109, in E major (1820); No.31, Op.110, in A♭ (1821); No.32, Op.111, in C minor (1821–2).OTHER PIANO WORKS: sonata in D for 4 hands, Op.6 (1797); 7 Bagatelles, Op.33 (1782–1802); 6 variations in F major on orig. theme, Op.34 (1802); 15 variations in E♭ and fugue on theme from Prometheus (known as Eroica Variations) Op.35 (1802); 32 variations in C minor (1806–7); 6 variations in D, Op.76 (1810); fantaisie in G minor, Op.77 (1810); 11 Bagatelles, Op.119 (1821); 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120 (1819–23); 6 Bagatelles, Op.126 (1823–4); Grosse Fuge in B♭, Op.133 (arr. Beethoven for pf. duet, Op.134) (1826); Rondo a capriccio in G (‘Rage over a lost Groschen’), Op.129 (1825–6).CHAMBER MUSIC: str. qts: Op.18, Nos. 1–6 in F major, G major, D major, C minor, A major, B♭ (1798–1800); Nos. 7, 8 and 9, Op.59, Nos. 1–3 in F major, E minor, C major (the Rasoumovsky qts., ded. to Count Rasoumovsky, Russian ambassador in Vienna, a keen qt. player) (comp. 1806); No.10, Op.74, in E♭ (known as Harp; 1809); No.11, Op.95, in F minor (1810); No.12, Op.127, in E♭ (1822–5); No.13, Op.130, in B♭ (1825–6; present finale replaces Grosse Fuge, Op.133); No.14, Op.131, in C♯ minor (1825–6); No.15, Op.132, in A minor (1825); No.16, Op.135, in F major (1826); Op.133, in B♭ (Grosse Fuge), orig. finale of Op.130 (1825). Str. quintets: Op.4, in E♭ (1795–6), arr. of Octet for wind instr. (comp. 1792–3, pubd. 1830 as Op.103); Op.29 in C major (1800–1); Op.104, in C minor, arr. by Beethoven in 1817 of his pf. trio, Op.1, No.3 (1792–4). Pf. trios: Op.1, Nos. 1–3, in E♭, G major, and C minor (1792–4); Op.38, in E♭ (with vn. or cl.), arr. by Beethoven of his Septet, Op.20 (1820–3); 14 Variations in E♭, Op.44 (1802–3); Op.70, Nos. 1–2, in D major and E♭ (1808); Op.97, in B♭ (Archduke) (1810–11); Variations on ‘Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu’, Op.121a (Kakadu) (c.1798). String Trios: Op.3 in E♭ (pre–1794) transcribed for vc. and pf., Op.64; Op.8, Serenade in D major (1796–7); Op.9, Nos. 1–3, in G major, D major, and C minor (1797–8); Pf. quintet (pf., ob., cl., hn., bn.), Op.16, in E♭ (1796), arr. for pf. qt. (1796, pubd. 1801); Septet (vn., va., vc., cl., hn., bn., and db.), Op.20 in E♭ (1799–1800). Vn. sonatas (but note that Beethoven described them as sonatas for pf. and vn.): Op.12, Nos. 1–3, in D major, A major and E♭ (1797–8); Op.23, in A minor (1800); Op.24, in F major (Spring) (1800–1); Op.30, Nos. 1–3, in A major, C minor, and G major (1801–2); Op.47, in A major (Kreutzer) (1802–3); Op.96, in G major (1812, rev. 1815). Vc. sonatas: Op.5, Nos. 1–2, in F major and G minor (1796); Op.69, in A major (1807–8); Op.102, Nos. 1–2, in C major and D major (1815). Miscellaneous: Serenade in D major, Op.25, fl., vn., va. (1801); Sextet in E♭, Op.81b, 2 hn., str. (?1795); Trio in B♭, Op.11, pf., cl. or vn., vc. (1797); Sonata in F major, Op.17, hn., pf. (1800); Variations for vc. and pf.: in G major, WoO 45, on ‘See the conqu'ring hero comes’ from Judas Maccabaeus (1796), in F major, Op.66, on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’ from Die Zauberflöte (1796), and in E♭, WoO 46, on ‘Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen’ from Die Zauberflöte (1801).CHORAL: Cantata on the death of the Emperor Joseph II (1790); Cantata on the accession of Emperor Leopold II (1790); Christus am Ölberge, oratorio, Op.85 (1803); Mass in C major, Op.86 (1807); Mass in D major (Missa Solemnis), Op.123 (1819–22); Choral Fantasia (pf., ch., and orch.), Op.80 (1808); Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt (Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage), Op.112 (1814–15); Der glorreiche Augenblick (The Glorious Moment), cantata, Op.136 (1814).SOLO VOICE (Songs, etc.): scena and aria ‘Ah! Perfido!’, sop. and orch., Op.65 (comp. 1796); Adelaide, Op.46 (1795); An die Hoffnung, Op.32 (1805); An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved), song-cyle for ten. and pf. (words by A. Jeitteles), Op.98 (1816); 25 Scot. songs, with acc. for pf. trio, Op.108 (1815–16); 12 Scot. songs, with acc. for pf. trio, Op.108 (1815–16); 12 Scottish songs (pubd. 1841).

Beethoven, Ludwig van

views updated May 11 2018


early life
intellectual and social life

BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN (1770–1827), German-Austrian composer.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born into a family of musicians serving at the electoral and archiepiscopal court at Bonn. His grandfather, of the same name, was kapellmeister, or director of music, at the court when Beethoven was a small child, and his father was a singer there. The boy Beethoven was trained to be a court musician as well; he played viola in the orchestra and organ in the chapel; for opera performances he accompanied rehearsals and coached singers. In 1787 he traveled to Vienna, presumably to study with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), but was called back almost immediately by the illness of his mother; owing to her death soon thereafter and his father's alcoholism he became responsible at the age of seventeen for the care of two younger brothers. The young Beethoven's budding career as a composer, though apparently little supported by the Bonn court, got off to a fairly promising start: by the age of twenty-one he had produced two cantatas, three piano sonatas, three piano quartets (piano and strings), an early version of what became the Second Piano Concerto, and many shorter compositions.

early life

In November 1792, as the armies of Napoleon were threatening the town and court, Beethoven left Bonn again for Vienna, there to remain for the rest of his life. His previous position in Bonn served him well there too, for the court establishment at Bonn was closely related by blood lines and marriage with the court of the Holy Roman Empire at Vienna, and his early supporters in the imperial city, such as the Lichnowskys and the Lobkowitz and von Fries families, were among the most exalted of the nobility. But Beethoven, like Mozart before him, never officially entered the employ of any person or institution there. In Vienna he made an early reputation as a pianist, gave piano and composition lessons, conducted and performed his music at private and public concerts, and sold his compositions to publishers in Vienna and Germany, later in England and Paris as well. He often composed on commission, an arrangement whereby the granter of the commission typically received the dedication of the composition together with exclusive rights to its performance for a fixed period of time, after which Beethoven was free to publish it.

Especially during his earlier years as a composer in Vienna, Beethoven specialized in music for his own instrument, the piano, an instrument only recently ascended to a position of dominance in European music, one which continued to undergo technical change throughout his life. The sonata for solo piano, previously associated largely with amateur performance, became in Beethoven's hands a vehicle for far-reaching innovation in musical expression: in harmonic language, form, sonority, texture, and in referential and associative richness. His thirty-two sonatas (plus juvenilia), distributed rather evenly across all but his final half-dozen years, are the single genre that provides a reasonably full glimpse of the majestic course of Beethoven's musical thought, from the youthful pathos and exaggerated Haydnesque wit of op. 2 and 10 (1795–1797) to the contemplation, violence, and exaltation of opp. 109, 110, and 111 (1820–1822).

The five concertos for piano, intended for public concerts, fall in the earlier part of Beethoven's career; following in the steps of Mozart, he wrote these concertos (with the exception of the last concerto, the "Emperor" of 1809) for his own performances. Thus they show all the brilliance requisite for virtuoso performance. But in addition they share in the expressive strength and imagination of Beethoven's maturing style. A marvelous example is the Fourth Concerto, op. 58, which combines military themes with ones of near-pastoral serenity, while the middle movement plays out a dialogue of fierce opposition ending in something like reconciliation and tranquility.

In Beethoven's day the kind of music that enjoyed the greatest social prestige was still opera. Though he considered possible opera libretti for composition nearly all his life, Beethoven composed only one, Fidelio, an adaptation of a French "rescue opera" libretto in which the heroic Leonore saves her husband Florestan from death at the hands of a villainous tyrant. The premiere of the opera, in November 1805, unfortunately coincided with Napoleon's invasion of Vienna, and closed after only three performances. Revised versions created with new librettists were mounted in 1806 and 1814, this last being the version seen in modern performances. In these subsequent incarnations the opera shifts emphasis dramatically from the saving of a single person to the liberation of all humankind from the bonds of tyranny, Florestan's fellow prisoners having been implicitly transformed into the suffering masses at large. Many have seen this change as indicative of Beethoven's own political sympathies, of liberal and humanitarian impulses that again come strongly to the fore in the Ninth Symphony (1824).


The genre most indelibly associated with Beethoven's name is the symphony. From the First (1800) to the Ninth a quarter of a century later, his symphonies are a study in diversity. The Third Symphony, the "Eroica" (1804), decisively broke with the traditions Beethoven inherited. Its intended dedication to Napoleon, later changed to "the memory of a hero"; its monumental funeral march implicitly commemorating that hero; the unprecedented scope and expressive extremes of individual movements all seemed to mark this as a symphony that transcended its genre to become the larger-than-life embodiment of an idea. The Sixth Symphony, the "Pastoral" (1808), again laden with extramusical reference, but of a nearly opposite significance, makes elaborate use of accepted musical signifiers of the pastoral, of a celebration of nature, of the imagined virtue and simplicity of country life. And in the Ninth Symphony (1824), Beethoven famously rejected the basic presuppositions of the genre by adding text (Schiller's "Ode to Joy") and voices that sounded a ringing proclamation of human goodness and the triumph of universal brotherhood.

Beethoven contributed to all the standard musical genres of his time: there are two masses, including the monumental Missa solemnis (1823), concert arias, songs for voice and piano, programmatic overtures, music for wind ensemble, and character pieces and variations for piano. His music has long formed the centerpiece of the instrumental chamber music repertoire, with ten sonatas for piano and violin, five for piano cello, and six piano trios (piano, violin, and cello). But most central of all have been the sixteen string quartets (plus the separate Grosse fuge), composed from around 1800 until his death. Of these the final five, commonly known as the "late" quartets, were finished within the space of about a year and a half at the end of his life. Their expressive world ranges from near-crude good humor to a kind of serene, timeless otherworldly musing that Beethoven's contemporaries were at a loss to fathom, but which has since come to be be seen as the apex of his art.

Early in his career the critical response to Beethoven's music was often negative or grudging: his works were often seen as obscure, bizarre, eccentric, and excessively long (at the first public performance of the "Eroica," it is reported, someone shouted "I'll give another Kreutzer if the thing will but stop!"). But in about 1805 a rather different strain of Beethoven criticism began to make an appearance, especially in Germany. Newly serious and technically competent reviews attempted to penetrate the obscurities and difficulties to find aesthetic justification for them. This new criticism reached a high point in the expansive reviews of E. T. A. Hoffmann in the years 1810 to 1813. And as Beethoven's late works, especially the late quartets, diverged ever more from contemporary practice, they inspired in his listeners a curious blend of puzzlement and awe. They seemed to illustrate the paradox of the genuine masterpiece: art that is in important ways unique, quite unlike other works of its kind, and at the same time exemplary, comprising a lasting standard of achievement and a model for others to follow.

By mid-career Beethoven had become the most famous musician in the world. His compositions routinely commanded high prices from both aristocratic patrons and publishers in several countries; as he produced them his symphonies quickly became standard fare at concerts all over Europe. Artists and intellectuals gathered in impressive numbers to visit him on his deathbed, and at the funeral of this reclusive man the crowd in attendance was estimated at ten to twenty thousand.

Until the end of the nineteenth century and beyond, his achievement cast its shadow over European music. Musicians felt he held proprietary rights over vast areas of composition—the symphony, the sonata, the string quartet, the piano concerto—and to compose in these genres meant meeting Beethoven on his own territory. Franz Schubert, Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, and at the end of the century, Gustav Mahler, all felt his example as both an imperative of sorts and an inhibiting factor, a standard that seemed at once to demand and discourage emulation.

intellectual and social life

By comparison with the exaltation of his aspiration and achievement, the course of Beethoven's life in Vienna seems prosaic. The central personal drama in this life was his advancing deafness. As early as in the so-called Heiligenstadt Testament of 1802, the

composer declared himself on the verge of suicide over his affliction, but overcame his despair with a Promethean resolve to carry on in fulfillment of the artist's responsibility to society. Succeeding generations have seen in this pattern of dire crisis and its resolution through the exercise of indomitable will a psychological paradigm for the expressive arc of Beethoven's compositions, particularly in the larger symphonic movements. For some years the composer made efforts to conceal his condition, fearful that its being known would injure his status as a musician. But beginning about 1816 necessity led him to use an ear trumpet, and two years later he resorted to "conversation books," in which his interlocutors entered their side of any exchange. Beethoven tended to save his documents compulsively; the survival of many conversation books has provided extraordinary material for biographers.

Strongly attracted to women from his adolescence, Beethoven, despite great apparent effort, was never able to attain a satisfactory relationship with any one of them. In Vienna he typically pursued women of a higher social standing than himself, some of them already attached, and some piano students of his who tended to be a good deal younger as well. In 1812 he wrote in several installments (but apparently never sent) a rhetorical cri du coeur to an unnamed "immortal beloved" expressing both his love for her and his resignation to their inevitable separation. This document has unleashed a torrent of speculation as to the identity of the addressee; by far the most likely candidate, recently identified by Maynard Solomon, is one Antonie Brentano, a native of Vienna married to Franz Brentano, a wealthy Frankfurt merchant. There have been various explanations for the melancholy story of Beethoven's relations with women. But there were two constant factors, probably related, in virtually all his encounters: a pursuit of the unattainable and an avoidance of commitment.

Beethoven's contemporaries saw him as a participant in that multifaceted, perplexing artistic and intellectual movement of his time, Romanticism. E. T. A. Hoffmann, surely a central figure in that movement, declared of Beethoven, "He is a completely Romantic composer." Subsequent generations have sought to distance the composer from such associations. Viennese scholars of the early twentieth century, alarmed at the radical modernism of Arnold Schoenberg and his group, extolled an earlier "classical" period consisting nearly exclusively of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. And modernists of various stripes ever since, eager to dissociate Beethoven from a despised Romanticism, have cemented his position in such a classical school. Charles Rosen's The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, first published in 1971 and since become a staple in every university music department in the English-speaking world, has carried on the tradition. Beginning in the late 1990s there has been some reassessment of this position by James Webster, who has questioned the validity of a "classical period" in music altogether, and Maynard Solomon, who has made a renewed exploration of Beethoven's ties with Romanticism.

Various schools of interpretation in the twentieth century have found Beethoven an inviting subject. Editha and Richard Sterba's Beethoven and his Nephew (English translation 1954) advanced a neo-Freudian and largely disapproving view of the composer's personality, particularly of his troubled relationship with his nephew Karl whose guardianship he assumed, after bitter legal wrangling with Karl's mother, in 1818. Among others who have applied concepts of psychoanalysis to the study of Beethoven's life, the most influential has been Maynard Solomon in his Beethoven (1977). Feminist scholarship has generally been critical of Beethoven, seeing the forcefulness of his music as a celebration of male hegemony. An analysis of Beethoven's career by the sociologist Tia DeNora (Beethoven and the Construction of Genius, 1995) sees the composer's towering reputation as a social construction, the result of a conscious effort of Beethoven's highly placed supporters to advance him as the embodiment of a new cult of "serious" music. A 2004 book by Stephen Rumph, Beethoven after Napoleon, construes the late works as a reflection of the conservative political and social ideals of the Metternich period. A perceptive and balanced account of the composer's life and work is Lewis Lockwood, Beethoven: The Music and the Life (2003).

See alsoBerlioz, Hector; Brahms, Johannes; Mahler, Gustav; Romanticism; Schubert, Franz; Vienna.


Burnham, Scott. Beethoven Hero. Princeton, N.J., 1995.

DeNora, Tia. Beethoven and the Construction of Genius: Musical Politics in Vienna, 1792–1803. Berkeley, Calif., 1995.

Lockwood, Lewis. Beethoven: The Music and the Life. New York, 2003.

Plantinga, Leon. Beethoven's Concertos. New York, 1999

Rumph, Stephen. Beethoven after Napoleon: Political Romanticism in the Late Works. Berkeley, Calif., 2004.

Solomon, Maynard. Beethoven. 2nd rev. ed. New York, 1998.

Thayer, Alexander Wheelock. Thayers Life of Beethoven. Revised and edited by Elliot Forbes. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J., 1964.

Leon Plantinga

Beethoven, Ludwig van

views updated May 11 2018


German composer; b. Bonn, Jan. 15 or 16, 1770; d. Vienna, March 26, 1827. The composer's grandfather, Louis van Beethoven, had been Kapellmeister in the chapel of the archbishop elector of Bonn (1761); his father, Johann, a member of the electoral chapel choir until 1789, was a teacher of clavier and violin. In 1767 Johann had married Maria Magdalena Laym; three children of this marriage survived infancy: Ludwig, Caspar Anton Karl (b. 1774), and Nikolaus Johann (b. 1776). In 1787 Maria Magdalena died; two years later Johann van Beethoven, for whom life had never been very smooth, was dismissed from his position. Thus at the age of 19 his son Ludwig was in fact the head of a family, with two younger brothers to support and guide.

Early Years. He had given early evidence of his musical talent, and, although his first music teachers were not particularly distinguished, Beethoven did have the opportunity sometime about 1781 to study under a competent composer, Christian Gottlob Neefe, who was organist at the electoral court. Under his tutelage Beethoven studied Bach and other composers so well that at the age of 12 he was permitted, in Neefe's absence, to supervise orchestra rehearsals for the court theater. At 14 he was appointed assistant court organist. In 1788 while still serving as organist, Beethoven was also playing viola in the orchestra for operatic performances at the court; this position helped him become familiar with operas by the leading composers of the dayMozart, Cimarosa, Paisiello, Gluck, and others.

It is possible that Beethoven may have met Mozart in 1787, and had a few lessons in composition from him. He may have met Haydn in 1790; at any rate, Haydn, impressed by an original composition Beethoven had written, brought the young man to Vienna (1792) to continue his study of composition under him. These lessons ended sometime before early 1794. Among others with whom Beethoven studied were Albrechtsberger, known for his sacred music and his theoretical work on counterpoint; Johann Schenk, a composer of Singspiele; and Antonio Salieri, Kapellmeister at the Viennese court and a composer of Italian operas. The association with Salieri continued until 1802.

In 1798 and 1799 Beethoven became aware of increasing difficulty in hearing. Doctors and treatments could not help him, and the inexorable progress of his deafness caused that great spiritual crisis that is reflected in the "Heiligenstadt Testament," a letter Beethoven wrote to his brothers in 1802.

Personal Traits. Beethoven seems to have been extremely careless about his physical appearance; he certainly was absentminded. As his hearing grew worse, he became more and more moody and irritable. He appears never seriously to have lacked money; his compositions, however much they may have been misunderstood by his contemporaries, were evidently very much appreciated. Beethoven's income had been derived from playing the piano before his deafness cut off this source of revenue; he also taught, and derived further income from dedicating works for a fee, and from the sale of rights to his compositions. In these negotiations he seems often to have been deplorably unscrupulous, selling the same rights to different persons at the same time. From 1809 on he received an annuity provided by the Archduke Rudolph, Prince Lobkowitz, and Prince Kinsky. Freed in these ways from economic and patronal pressure, Beethoven was able to compose his music to please no demands but those of his own genius.

In Bonn he was in the service of the archbishop, and among the dedications of his compositions there are several to the Archduke Rudolph, Beethoven's patron and former pupil who became archbishop of Olmütz in 1820. He was generous with his services for charity and more than once permitted his music to be used at a concert for the benefit of an Ursuline convent school at Graz.

Beethoven's relationships with his family were unhappy. He never married, and the two younger brothers, whose guardian he had become at 19, both made marriages of which he disapproved. His brother Caspar died in 1815, and Beethoven was declared sole legal guardian of Caspar's son, Karl (1819). The youth, who did not respond well to Beethoven's well-intentioned but often misplaced efforts, attempted suicide in 1826. Beethoven's relations with his youngest brother, Nikolaus Johann, were complicated by the composer's dislike for Nikolaus's wife. It was after a visit to their home with Karl in 1826, that, on the trip back to Vienna, he fell ill, and died several months later, after receiving the last rites of the Church.

His Music. Among his compositions are nine symphonies, 11 overtures, various concerti (including five for piano and one for violin), 16 string quartets and much other chamber music, 30 piano sonatas and numerous sets of variations for piano, the oratorio Christus am Ölberg (1802), the opera Fidelio (1804), and two Masses. The earlier of these, the Mass in C, Op. 86, was composed in the honor of Princess Esterhazy and was first performed on the Sunday after her name day, Sept. 13, 1807, in Eisenstadtthe same occasion and place for which in other years some of Haydn's Masses were composed. The other, the Mass in D, usually known as the Missa solemnis, Op. 123, was begun in 1819, and was to have been performed at the installation of the Archduke Rudolph as archbishop. The Missa solemnis, however, was not completed until 1823.

Beethoven's Masses, traditional in many respects, are scored for solo quartet, chorus in four parts, and orchestra. They feature word painting (rising lines on "ascendit in caelos," for example), dramatic contrast (sharp difference in scoring, dynamics, and rhythm between the phrases "Gloria in excelsis Deo" and "et in terra pax"), standard devices for setting certain words (rests between repetitions of the word "non"), and the use of instrumental forms in some movements. These characteristics of Beethoven's Masses are similar to those to be found in the works of numerous other composers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. At times, however, the scoring in Beethoven's Masses differs from that of other Masses of the classic period. Orchestral introductions and interludes are more prominent. Great attention is paid to orchestration: there are monumental, brilliantly written tutti passages (e.g., "Gloria in excelsis Deo" in the Missa solemnis ). There are also passages where the use of sharply reduced orchestral forces produces very impressive effects (e.g., the beginning of the Benedictus in the same Mass, where there are only two flutes and a solo violin; the middle of the Agnus Dei, with only two trumpets and tympani). The solo singers often have highly dramatic and individual lines, which would be artistically impossible for a chorus to perform. A particularly striking example of this is in the Agnus Dei of the Missa solemnis where each of the soloists sings "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi" in the style of operatic accompanied recitative to an ominous background of trumpets, drums, and strings tremolo. On the other hand, Beethoven sometimes has the solo quartet sing together unaccompanied in a homophonic style, similiar to that of the chorale; this happens, for example, in the Benedictus of the Mass in C.

A composer of Masses who wishes, as Beethoven did, to compose music reflective of the rhythm and the meaning of the words, has a particular problem with the long texts. If each new idea in the text is given its own theme, the work becomes too diffuse; if each of these themes is developed, the movement can become too long. The use of some sort of refrain is one way of solving this problem. In the Gloria of the Missa solemnis, Beethoven creats a vigorous rising figure for the opening line which he brings back on the phrases "laudamus te" and "Domine Deus," as well as at the end, after the fugue, with its original text.

Missa Solemnis. However, if the movements with short texts are not to be dwarfed by the others, their texts must be repeated to expand the length of the movement. For example, in Masses of the classic period, the Benedictus is often a slow lyrical movement, with many repetitions of text, in binary form. It is preceded by a Sanctus set briefly and in homophonic style, a Pleni in a terse but brilliant stylesometimes polyphonicand an Osanna similarly set. It is followed by a second Osanna section (sometimes a literal repeat of the first) and, in some cases, by a phrase of the Benedictus and a final Osanna. This basic form is found in the Sanctus of the Missa solemnis and also in that of the Coronation Mass (k. 317) of Mozart. The Missa solemnis Sanctus differs from the earlier work most conspicuously in its length. In such late works as the Missa solemnis, Beethoven writes very long lines, avoiding cadences through a variety of devices, and expanding the length of movements proportionately.

The Missa solemnis is gigantic in length, style, and emotional range. It is true that in Bach's Mass in B minor, for example, changes in scoring, range, rhythm, and texture dramatize the text: the "Crucifixus" sounds tragic, the "Et resurrexit" jubilant. But Beethoven explores the possibilities of text expression even further; he uses the changing emotions inspired by the Mass text as impulses toward the creation of a musical expression of the text. Further, he works and reworks his ideas so that in each movement there is a strong and compelling drive from one idea to the next, and an ending that is both over-whelming and inevitable.

The Missa solemnis contains two ponderous and extremely complex fugues that end the Gloria and the Credo; but it also has passages of serene lyricism, such as the Benedictus. This Mass is not an objective statement of the text, but an emotional expression of it resulting from a serious and highly personal reflection on the words. Its inappropriateness for the liturgy has not prevented it from affecting many listeners quite deeply.

Bibliography: w. m. mcnaught, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 1:530595. d. f. tovey, Essays in Musical Analysis, v.1 (London 1935) 2167. Thayer's Life of Beethoven, rev. and ed. e. forbes, 2 v. (Princeton 1964). e. agmon, "The First Movement of Beethoven's Cello Sonata Op. 69: The Opening Solo as a Structural and Motivic Source," The Journal of Musicology 16 (1998): 394409. c. bashford, "The Late Beethoven Quartets and the London Press, 1836ca. 1850," The Musical Quarterly 84 (2000): 84122. d. b. dennis, Beethoven in German Politics, 18701989 (New Haven 1999). r. dunn, "The Fourth Horn in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony," Journal of the Conductors' League 17(1996):116120. g. thomas ealy, "Of Ear Trumpets and a Resonance Plate: Early Hearing Aids and Beethoven's Hearing Perception," 19th Century Music 17 (1994): 262273. r. kamien, "Non-Tonic Settings of the Primary Tone in Beethoven Piano Sonatas," The Journal of Musicology 16 (1998): 379393. j. parsons, "Fidelio, oder Die eheliche Liebe (Fidelio, or Conjugal Love )" In International Dictionary of Opera 2 vols. ed. c. steven larue, 436438 (Detroit 1993). l. platinga, Beethoven's Concertos: History, Style, Performance, (New York 1999). m. sheer, "Dynamics in Beethoven's Late Instrumental Works: A New Profile," The Journal of Musicology 16 (1998): 358378.

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Beethoven, Ludwig van

views updated May 23 2018

Ludwig van Beethoven

Born: December 16, 1770
Bonn, Germany
Died: March 26, 1827
Vienna, Austria

German composer

German composer Ludwig van Beethoven is considered one of the most important figures in the history of music. He continued to compose even while losing his hearing and created some of his greatest works after becoming totally deaf.

Early years in Bonn

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, on December 16, 1770. He was the eldest of three children of Johann and Maria Magdalena van Beethoven. His father, a musician who liked to drink, taught him to play piano and violin. Young Ludwig was often pulled out of bed in the middle of the night and ordered to perform for his father's drinking companions, suffering beatings if he protested. As Beethoven developed, it became clear that to reach artistic maturity he would have to leave Bonn for a major musical center.

At the age of twelve Beethoven was a promising keyboard player and a talented pupil in composition of the court organist Christian Gottlob Neefe (17481798). He even filled in as church organist when Neefe was out of town. In 1783 Beethoven's first published work, a set of keyboard pieces, appeared, and in the 1780s he produced portions of a number of later works. In 1787 he traveled to Vienna, Austria, apparently to seek out Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (17561791) as a teacher. He was forced to return to Bonn to care for his ailing mother, who died several months later. His father died in 1792.

Years in Vienna

In 1792 Beethoven went back to Vienna to study with the famous composer Joseph Haydn (17321809). Beethoven was not totally satisfied with Haydn's teaching, though, and he turned to musicians of lesser talent for extra instruction. Beethoven rapidly proceeded to make his mark as a brilliant keyboard performer and as a gifted young composer with a number of works to his credit. In 1795 his first mature published works appeared, and his career was officially launched.

Beethoven lived in Vienna from 1792 to his death in 1827, unmarried, among a circle of friends, independent of any kind of official position or private service. He rarely traveled, apart from summers in the countryside. In 1796 he made a trip to northern Germany, where his schedule included a visit to the court of King Frederick William of Prussia, an amateur cellist. Later Beethoven made several trips to Budapest, Hungary. In 1808 Beethoven received an invitation to become music director at Kassel, Germany. This alarmed several of his wealthy Viennese friends, who formed a group of backers and agreed to guarantee Beethoven an annual salary of 1,400 florins to keep him in Vienna. He thus became one of the first musicians in history to be able to live independently on his music salary.

Personal and professional problems

Although publishers sought out Beethoven and he was an able manager of his own business affairs, he was at the mercy of the crooked publishing practices of his time. Publishers paid a fee to composers for rights to their works, but there was no system of copyrights (the exclusive right to sell and copy a published work) or royalties (profits based on public performances of the material) at the time. As each new work appeared, Beethoven sold it to one or more of the best and most reliable publishers. But this initial payment was all he would receive, and both he and his publisher had to contend with rival publishers who brought out editions of their own. As a result Beethoven saw his works published in many different versions that were unauthorized, unchecked, and often inaccurate. Several times during his life in Vienna Beethoven started plans for a complete, authorized edition of his works, but these plans were never realized.

Beethoven's two main personal problems, especially in later life, were his deafness and his relationship with his nephew, Karl. Beethoven began to lose his hearing during his early years in Vienna, and the condition gradually grew worse. So severe was the problem that as early as 1802 he actually considered suicide. In 1815 he gave up hope of performing publicly as a pianist. After 1818 he was no longer able to carry on conversations with visitors, who were forced to communicate with him in writing. The second problem arose when he became Karl's guardian upon the death of his brother in 1815. Karl proved to be unstable and a continuing source of worry to an already troubled man.

Beethoven's deafness and his temper contributed to his reputation as an unpleasant personality. But reliable accounts and a careful reading of Beethoven's letters reveal him to be a powerful and self-conscious man, totally involved in his creative work but alert to its practical side as well, and one who is sometimes willing to change to meet current demands. For example, he wrote some works on commission, such as his cantata (a narrative poem set to music) for the Congress of Vienna, 1814.

Examining Beethoven

Beethoven's deafness affected his social life, and it must have changed his personality deeply. In any event, his development as an artist would probably have caused a crisis in his relationship to the musical and social life of the time sooner or later. In his early years he wrote as a pianist-composer for an immediate and receptive public; in his last years he wrote for himself. Common in Beethoven biographies is the focus on Beethoven's awareness of current events and ideas, especially his attachment to the ideals of the French Revolution (178999; the revolt of the French middle class to end absolute power by French kings) and his faith in the brotherhood of men, as expressed in his lifelong goal of composing a version of "Ode to Joy," by Friedrich Schiller (17591805), realized at last in the Ninth Symphony. Also frequently mentioned is his genuine love of nature and outdoor life.

No one had ever heard anything like Beethoven's last works; they were too advanced for audiences and even professional musicians for some time after his death in 1827. Beethoven was aware of this. It seems, however, he expected later audiences to have a greater understanding of and appreciation for them. Beethoven reportedly told a visitor who was confused by some of his later pieces, "They are not for you but for a later age."

For More Information

Autexier, Philippe A. Beethoven: The Composer As Hero. Edited by Carey Lovelace. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1992.

Balcavage, Dynise. Ludwig van Beethoven, Composer. New York: Chelsea House, 1996.

Solomon, Maynard. Beethoven. 2nd ed. New York: Schirmer Books, 1998.

Ludwig van Beethoven

views updated Jun 08 2018

Ludwig van Beethoven




Early Life and Career. Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, where his father, Johann (1740–1792), was a musician at the court of the archbishop elector of Cologne. Ludwig’s mother, Maria Magdalena Keverich (1746–1787), was the daughter of a kitchen overseer in the palace of Ehrenbreitstein. During the future composer’s early childhood he showed no inclination for music, but at the age of eleven he began to demonstrate extraordinary talent as a keyboard player and soon thereafter as a composer. At twelve he composed and published three complete piano sonatas of three movements each, which won acclaim for their sophistication and are still highly praised. By the age of thirteen he showed signs that composing music was becoming a compulsion for him, and for the rest of his life he wrote music prolifically. Beethoven remained in Bonn until 1792, when he moved to Vienna, the musical capital of Europe and a city of two hundred thousand souls, where he came under the influence of one of the most successful composers in Europe, Joseph Haydn (1732–1809). Beethoven’s physical appearance always made a striking impression on contemporaries. One colleague described him thus: “Short in stature, broad in the shoulders, short neck, large head, round nose, dark brown complexion; he always bent forward slightly when he walked.” By 1795 Beethoven had become quite popular as a composer and pianist in Vienna, and his subscription concerts were so financially successful that he contemplated a concert tour of other cities in Europe. A serious illness in 1797 (perhaps typhus) cut short these plans and may have been the cause of his subsequent encroaching deafness.

Composing for Money. Until 1800 Beethoven continued to perform piano concerts in Vienna for money, but he also began selling his compositions to eager publishers, who competed to buy the works. The published scores were sold to music clubs, concert societies, and the many new professional orchestras that desired new music to play at their increasingly frequent and popular concerts. Beethoven was a successful entrepreneur in marketing his music, selling pieces to any publisher who would pay well for it. As he wrote in a letter to a friend in 1801, “My compositions bring in a good deal; and I may say that I am offered more com-missions than it is possible for me to carry out. Moreover, for every composition I can count on six or seven publishers, or even more if I want them; people no longer come to an arrangement with me. I state my price and they pay.”

A Passion. Financial success was not Beethoven’ only motivation to compose. He was also driven by a kind of creative compulsion, feverishly composing piece after piece. As he wrote in one of his many letters to friends, “I often produce three or four works at the same time.” His absorption in his music became total: “I live entirely in my music; and hardly have I completed one composition when I have already begun another.” Mixed with Beethoven’s obsession with his music was an almost overpowering sense of despair and impending death, likely triggered by his chronic ill health and growing deafness. (He drew up a last will and testament in 1803.) Shortly after recovering from an illness in 1802, he wrote, “I am not very well satisfied with the work I have thus far done. From this day on I shall take a new way.” The first giant step he took on this new path was his astonishingly original and deeply personal Third Symphony, the “Eroica,” or “Heroic,” symphony, completed in 1804 and first performed in February 1805. Its length and grandeur were unprecedented, and its thunderous, triumphant sounds set a course that continued through nearly all Beethoven’s orchestral compositions, most notably his Violin Concerto in D (1806), his Fifth Piano Concerto (1809), and his last symphony, the Ninth (1824). Initially, the “Eroica” was dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Beethoven viewed as the champion of the universal rights of liberty and justice. In May 1804, on hearing that Napoleon had declared himself emperor, however, Beethoven flew into a rage and tore the dedication from the manuscript for the recently completed symphony and threw the page on the floor. When he heard the news of Napoleon’s coronation, Beethoven reportedly shouted to a friend: “Now he will trample all human rights underfoot, and only pander to his own ambition; he will place himself above everyone else and become a tyrant!”

Immortal Beloved. Beethoven never married, largely because he never felt financially secure enough to establish a household and support a family. He did, however, fall passionately in love and wrote letters expressing his ardent love for his “immortal beloved.” He never explicitly identified this woman, giving rise to controversy among historians trying to discern her identity. Most likely she was Antonie von Birkenstock Brentano, the wife of Franz Brentano. Beethoven met Brentano and his wife in 1810 and became friends with the couple, even spending considerable time as their houseguest.

Becoming Deaf. Beethoven lived with chronic ill health, constantly complaining of severe gastrointestinal discomfort, respiratory disorders, headaches, and rheumatism. His most distressing physical affliction was his growing deafness. As his deafness grew worse, normal conversation with him became impossible, and people had to shout to be heard. Around 1813 Beethoven began to employ mechanical hearing aids, ear trumpets that were largely ineffective. In 1819, desperate for some cure, he tried a remedy suggested to him by a friend: inserting pieces of cotton saturated with horse-radish juice into his ears as frequently as possible. By the time he conducted the premiere of his Ninth Symphony in 1824, he was totally deaf. A member of the audience reported: “At the close of the performance an incident occurred which must have brought tears to many an eye in that room. The master, though placed in the midst of this confluence of music, heard nothing of it at all and was not even sensible of the applause of the audience at the end of his great work, but continued standing with his back to the audience, and beating the time, till Fraulein Ungher, who had sung the contralto part, turned him . . . round to face the people, who were still clapping their hands, and giving way to the greatest demonstrations of pleasure. His turning round . . . acted like an electric shock on all present, and a volcanic explosion of sympathy and admiration followed, which was repeated again and again, and seemed as if it would never end.”

Death. In December 1826 Beethoven fell seriously ill, probably with liver disease. The visible sign of his illness being a distended abdomen, four operations were performed in the next three months to relieve the swelling. None was successful, and Beethoven lapsed into a coma on 24 March 1827. Forty-eight hours later, during a violent thunderstorm, a loud peal of thunder shook the room and a flash of lightning illuminated it. According to an eyewitness, “Beethoven opened his eyes, raised his right hand, and gazed fixedly upwards for some seconds, with clenched fist, and a solemn threatening expression. . . . His hand dropped . . . and his eyes were half-closed. . . . The spirit of the great master had passed from this false world to the kingdom of truth.”


Emily Anderson, ed. and trans., The Letters of Beethoven, 3 volumes (New York: St. Martin’ Press, 1961).

Barry Cooper, Beethoven (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Cooper, ed., The Beethoven Compendium: A Guide to Beethoven s Life and Music (London: Thames & Hudson, 1991).

Peter J. Davies, Beethoven in Person: His Deafness, Illnesses, and Death (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001).

William Kinderman, Beethoven (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

Beethoven, Ludwig van

views updated May 18 2018

Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770–1827) German composer, a profound influence on the development of Western classical music. He provides a link between the formal classical style of Haydn and Mozart and the Romanticism of Wagner, Brahms and Bruckner. Born in Bonn, Beethoven visited Vienna in 1787, and was taught briefly by Mozart. He made Vienna his home from 1792, and took lessons from Haydn. Beethoven's early works, such as the piano sonatas Pathétique (1789) and Moonlight (1801), betray the influences of his teachers. The year 1801 marks the onset of Beethoven's deafness and a shift in style. His third symphony (Eroica, 1804) was a decisive break from the classical tradition, both in terms of its form and its dedication to Napoleon I. This middle period also includes his fifth piano concerto (Emperor, 1809) and his only opera, Fidelio (1805). Beethoven's final period coincides with his complete loss of hearing (1817) and is marked by works of even greater length and complexity. These include the Hammerklavier Sonata (1818) and his ninth symphony (Ode to Joy, 1817–23). Beethoven increased the dramatic scope of the symphony and expanded the size of the orchestra.

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