Composer of the Week: Ludwig van Beethoven

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We’re squeezing in one last Fantasia salute before the month ends! Beethoven’s segment of the film truly rocks, so we couldn’t pass this one up. Yay Beethoven and yay Fantasia!

b. December 16, 1770 in Bonn, Germany

d. March 26, 1827 in Vienna, Austria

Ludwig van Beethoven was regarded as the most important composer in the transition between the Classical and Romantic period of music and is also thought to be the most important composer ever to live.

He came from a musical family — both his father and grandfather sang in choruses. After the death of his grandfather, Beethoven’s father declined into alcoholism and Beethoven became the breadwinner for the household.

Though his father tried to turn young Ludwig into a piano prodigy like Bach, the effort was unsuccessful. Obviously, Beethoven’s career did not lack success though, as we well know. He began working as an assistant court organist in 1782 and in 1783 became a continuo player for the opera in Bonn. He also studied in Vienna with Mozart, who was very impressed with Beethoven’s capabilities. In fact, Beethoven’s improvisation skills were so good that he surpassed the great Mozart with his abilities in this genre.

We owe gratitude to Beethoven for many things. Prior to his career, instrumental music was considered inferior to vocal music. Many of the amazing chamber works and orchestral works we’ve come to know and love may not have been written if it wasn’t for Beethoven’s great influence.

Beethoven is famous for many wonderful compositions, but today we focus on his Symphony No. 6, Pastoral. Here’s Beethoven’s clip from Disney’s Fantasia:

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