Beethoven: The New Kid on the Block
Join Active Minds as we investigate the genius of Beethoven. When the brash young Ludwig moved to Vienna in his early 20s, he set the town on its ear with his pianistic abilities. Mozart advised: “Mark that young man; he will make himself a name in the world!" We’ll listen to several examples of his compositions and discuss the enduring enigma that is Beethoven. No prior musical knowledge is needed. Bring your love of music and your curiosity.
When Mozart first heard Beethoven play, he commented to a friend, “Mark that young man; he will make himself a name in the world!" Mozart’s accurate prediction was proven true when the brash, clumsy and extremely talented 22-year-old Ludwig arrived in Vienna, Europe’s music capital, in 1792. He indeed made himself a name as he turned discerning heads almost immediately. The disheveled and quirky young man had a tidy understanding of Viennese priorities: “It is easy to get along with nobility if you have something to impress them with.” Beethoven’s youthful magnetism and impressive talent led to his being well-supported by wealthy and aristocratic music aficionados throughout his early years in Vienna. He was considered by most the finest improvising pianist of his day. When Beethoven permanently moved to Vienna, he finally escaped his alcoholic and abusive father, who tried to exploit Ludwig’s talent for financial gain (as Mozart’s father had done). Beethoven was irreparably damaged by his father but he trudged on through the pain. Throughout his twenties, the aristocratic music scene of Vienna was at Beethoven’s feet not only as composer and musician, but also as a much sought after piano teacher. His powerful technique changed the way pianos were played forever, forcing piano manufacturers to re-think how the instruments were constructed. While studying with many of the great Viennese composers such as Haydn, young Ludwig’s compositions began to turn heads as well. Vienna compared him to the great Mozart. He was writing a lot of wonderful and groundbreaking music before his 30th birthday and before the realization that he was going deaf. All of this excitement came together in a “vortex” of unsurpassed creativity--excellent performances, amazing musicians, supported by wealthy patrons in the “music-crazed” city of Vienna at the turn of the 19th Century. The city that Mozart and Haydn built had a new icon: Beethoven, the new kid on the block.
• What was the cause of Beethoven’s deafness and what did he do about it?
• How many other instruments did Beethoven play?
• Who was his “Immortal Beloved?”
• Did you know that Beethoven was first renowned as a great pianist?
• Can you remember your first “experience” with Beethoven’s music?
More to Explore:
• Overview and details of Beethoven's life: www.lucare.com/immortal/
Books For Further Reading:
• Cooper, Barry. Beethoven (Master Musicians). Oxford University Press. 2008. 464 pages. Cooper incorporates the latest international research on many aspects of the composer's life and work and presents these in a truly integrated chronological narrative. This volume concentrates on Beethoven's artistic achievements both by examining the origins of his works and by expert commentary on some of their most striking and original features. Click here to order.
• Venezia, Mike. Ludwig Van Beethoven (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers). Children's Press. 1996. 32 pages. The author/illustrator of the highly successful Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series lends his creative talents to another fun, informative series, this one featuring world-famous composers. Click here to order.