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The Genius of Mozart and Beethoven

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“Beethoven enlarged the limits of the classical style beyond all previous conceptions, but he never changed its essential structure or abandoned it, as did the composers who followed him. In the other fundamental aspects of his musical language, as well as in the key relations within a single movement, Beethoven may be said to have remained within the classical framework, even while using it in startlingly radical and original ways” said Charles Rosen in his classical survey ‘The Classical Style.’

Keeping in mind this quote, it gives us a clear view of the overall genius of Beethoven who created eternal tunes and immortal symphonies, which in today’s world are considered as masterpieces. To understand the bona fide class of this maestro, it is important to look at his background as to how he became the archetypal of the classical and romantic era.

Brief History

Ludwig Van Beethoven, of German Origin, was born on December 17, 1770 in the home of Johann who was proficient teacher of violin, piano and voice. Teaching music was his bread and butter as he was a chapel master (Kapellmeister). Since his early age, Beethoven used to sing soprano in the very same electoral chapel where his father was the chapel master who taught Beethoven, violin and piano. Since 8 years of age, he studied with quite a lot of local organists, even received piano lessons from Tobias Friedrich Pfeiffer, where violinist like Franz Rovantini present him violin and viola lessons. Even though as a born artist, Beethoven’s musical brilliance was associated to that of Mozart’s, he never exceeded the elementary level in school education. In his teens in 1787, he went to Vienna for unknown reasons, but some say that he even met Mozart and took lessons from him. In a two weeks time when he came back his world suddenly changed for him as his mother died and his father became a drunkard. Beethoven, at the age of 19, formally requested to be known as the head of the house and started receiving half of his father’s salary to support his siblings.

Beethoven shifted to Vienna in 1792 where his father died in the very same year. His father died in December that same year. He studied with Haydn for a limited time as there was a personality clash. Beethoven then studied with the best known teacher in Vienna, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger. With him he learned contrapuntal and counterpoint exercises in free writing, in two to four-part fugues, in imitation, choral fugues, double fugue, double counterpoint at the various intervals, canon and triple counterpoint. With this learning process he kept on composing more and more where in 1800, the first symphony and a septet (op. 20) was performed by him. At the age of 20 he became deaf and the whole life of Beethoven completely transformed though he tried to hide his impairment form the world but could not succeed. Beethoven used a particular rod connected to the soundboard on a piano that he could gnaw -the vibrations would then move from the piano to his jaw to amplify his insight of the sound. By 1814 he became totally deaf. After 1815, no successors came upfront to carry the patronage, and Beethoven relied mainly on selling composition rights and a meagre pension.

A born Genius

Now here the question arises how a great composer like Beethoven wrote symphonies 2, 3 (Symphony 3, Eroica was titled as Bonaparte, which was a tribute to Napoleon Bonaparte) and 4 within 1800-1806, which were his early days of deafness? What one can say about his imaginative thoughts as they were God gifted and no human can develop that by himself. If he would have been intelligent enough, he could have studied well in his school days. But he was the chosen one born to create such a music, which is immortal. The talent was there within him it was just the brushing up of that talent was required that revolutionized the world of music.

Evident in the test of time, his symphonies were established to be master pieces in conjunction with his other works. Beethoven loved a woman named Fanny, but never married. He spoke of her in a letter saying, “I found only one whom I shall doubtless never possess.” The romance in his sonatas is quite evident of his true love. Beethoven completed abundant music works throughout his life. Each and every piece is a representation of his brilliance having its own style and design with variation and modulation. Even though Beethoven’s music varied from symphonies to sonatas, his area of expertise was piano concertos, string quartets piano sonatas and symphonies, which were his favourites as well. Beethoven’s compositional career is usually divided into Early (upto 1802), Middle (1803-1814) and Late (1815 onwards) periods. In his Some classic pieces from the Early period are the 1st and 2nd symphonies, the 1-6 string quartets, 1-3 piano concertos, and the first 20 piano sonatas, including the evergreen “Moonlight” sonata.

His Middle (laudable) period started along with his detection of encroaching deafness. It is renowned for broad base music that express struggle and heroism, Middle-period works include the fourth and fifth piano concertos, six symphonies (Nos. 3-8), violin concerto, the triple concerto, the next seven piano sonatas (this include Waldstein and Appassionata), five string quartets (Nos. 7-11) and Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio.

The last period is very much considered as the Romantic period. Music from this time is branded by his intellectual depth, formal innovations, and intense personal expression. For instance, the Ninth Symphony, Missa Solemnis and the “Hammerklavier” Sonata are the best known masterpieces of the last period. After his death in, every musician across the globe, is somewhat and at any time of his music career is inspired by Beethoven’s music. The biggest example that can be quoted it the European committee which designed the European flag adopted Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ from his 9th Symphony in 1972 which became the official anthem of the European Union in 1985. The composer has also been portrayed in a number of films, both theatrical and television releases. Since his death in 1827, the influence of Beethoven’s music on subsequent generations of composers is profound and will carry on centuries ahead.

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