Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized December, 1770 - March 26, 1827) has lasted as a familiar name due to his role in the transition between the Classical and Romantic musical eras. Alongside the impact his "musical genius" has had on composers of subsequent generations. Born in Bonn, Germany, Beethoven first developed his musical skills under the guidance of nearby musicians. However, after a time, Beethoven moved to Vienna to study under Haydn, where he (after other travels) eventually died.
In Bonn, Beethoven received early training from his father, Johann van Beethoven, and Christian Gottlob Neefe. Beethoven's father, along with other teachers, helped Beethoven learn multiple instruments, and Neefe helped Beethoven developed his compositional skills. In additional to receiving support through instruction, Beethoven developed relationships to support his success as the health of his parents declined. Count Ferdinand von Waldstein, a German nobleman, became a close friend of Beethoven's and remained so throughout their lives. In Vienna, many noblemen offered Beethoven financial support to continue his studies there.
Though the transition between teachers from Bonn to Vienna and eventual success may create the impression that Beethoven lived an easy life with a straightforward path to success, this could not be further from the truth. When his mother died early in his life and his father became an alcoholic, Beethoven grew to take care of his brothers, spending five years in Bonn for their caretaking. Later in life, a slow loss of hearing appeared as though it could significantly influence Beethoven's musical career. And the final loss inarguably impacted Beethoven's ability to enjoy music. However, Beethoven continued composing despite his loss of hearing. In his life, Beethoven also faced issues stemming from his class and his relationships. Being unable to keep custody of his brother's son due to class, and being unable to keep a relationship with a woman of a higher class. In the light of Beethoven's struggles, many historians respect Beethoven's ability to continue writing successful, genius music.
While some of Beethoven's works have slowly dropped out of the public's common knowledge, a few of his pieces are still recognizable by the common fellow on the street. For example, within the first measure of Beethoven's Sinfonia Eroica, most can surely acknowledge its familiarity. Other pieces Beethoven has composed that remain familiar are the Coriolan Overture, his Ninth Symphony, Fifth Symphony, and to some, Fidelio.
Beethoven's works, name, and skill have left a mark on music for years to come. Museums have been built in his honor, and his music is still performed by ensembles of every size, from school groups to professional symphonies. The Voyager spacecraft even features Beethoven's music, used as an example of humankind's culture, were intelligent life to every come across the craft. Beethoven has a legacy that is difficult to match; over two hundred years later, we still listen to his music every day.
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