Ludwig van Beethoven
Born Dec. 17, 1770 in Bonn, Germany. Died March 26, 1827 in Vienna, Austria.
Beethoven, known throughout the world for the Hymn to Joy of his ninth symphony, is one of the greatest composers in musical history. Despite spending his early years in poverty and pain with a drunkard for a father, Beethoven received a solid musical education, particularly in Vienna with Haydn and Salieri.
A brilliant pianist and great improviser, Liszt fervently admired the composer whose work he divided into two distinct periods, “one where traditional form still dominates his thought and the other where his thought determines, recreates and shapes the form”. As early as 1798, Beethoven understood that his faculties were diminishing as the first signs of deafness appeared, which led him to attempt suicide in 1802. However, the energy and ardent desire to love won him over and the composer used his time for composition leaving masterpieces for humanity, which emerged from the light of silence. Beethoven’s work aims for communion and hope and hails the beauties of the world.
A solitary giant and misanthropist, Beethoven’s work prolonged the balance of classicism and opens up the abysses of Romanticism. He was able to forge a new musical language, between tradition and modernity. René Leibowitz evoked, “a composer of the greatest inspiration, and what’s more, a musician racked by a visible obsession with an ideal of form and structure constantly pushed to the very limits of what the human mind is capable of apprehending, grasping and forming”. His influence would determine Liszt, Berlioz, Schumann and Brahms who venerated him.