German Classical Music

Artists of Classical Music
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Gustav Mahler
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Arnold Schönberg
  • Robert Schumann
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen
  • Richard Wagner

Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770 - 1827

Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most famous and influential composers of all time. He was born in 1770 in Bonn, being the second-born child of Johann van Beethoven and Maria Magdalena Keverich. As a child, the talented young Beethoven learned to play the piano, violin and viola. At the age of seven, he performed in public for the first time. With the help of his teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe, Beethoven was able to write a set of keyboard variations by March 1783, which was his first published composition.

After having moved to Vienna in 1792, Beethoven started working under the direction of composer Joseph Haydn and dedicated himself to the studies of Mozart's work. During this time, he was financially supported by different stipends of Viennese noblemen and wealthy patrons. Later, he was able to work as a music teacher and earned his living from the sale and performance of his compositions. Around 1796, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. However, he continued composing music, but it made performing his works increasingly difficult. Beethoven died in 1827 after several months of illness.

Having dealt with a difficult and adverse childhood, he sometimes masked his frustrations with violent behaviour. He is considered by many to be the creator of modern music, given his composing technique. Beethoven was more inclined to work based on a musical idea or seed, rather than based on a complete melody. His way of working with rhythms was also an innovation.

Beethoven's piano symphonies, quartets, concerts and sonatas represented important progress in the respective genres, which set out the pace of classical music in the Romantic Period. Naturally democratic, Beethoven made an effort to musically express his ideal of a free and equal world. The virtuoso pianist and composer created many of his widely known piano sonatas, but also string quartets and other works in Vienna. Some of his masterpieces, that are part of the best-known compositions in all of classical music, include the Fidelio Opera, the Moonlight Sonata, the Fifth Symphony and the Ninth Symphony and his concerts for the piano and violin.