Ludwig van Beethoven (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Beethoven contributed greatly to Western classical music. Clearly reflecting the transition from the classical tradition in music to the Romantic, he made numerous innovations in the piano sonata, the string quartet, and the symphony.
Born in Bonn in 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven did not enjoy the happiest of childhoods. His father, a minor musician in the court of the archbishop-elector of Cologne, was generally more interested in drinking than in making music and was often a trial to his family. He knew well enough, however, that his son had a talent for music. Hoping that the boy might be a wunderkind, another Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he pushed him into a severe musical training that left little time for the pleasures of childhood. Beethoven’s playmates were the piano, the organ, and the viola.
Not another Mozart, the young Beethoven nevertheless began to develop his musical abilities slowly but surely. By his thirteenth year, he was composing and was serving as an assistant to his teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe, the court organist, with the result that he began to gain notice from members of the aristocracy, people who, throughout the rest of his life, were to be patrons and friends. The family of Emanuel Joseph Breuning, for example, welcomed the boy, and he spent much time with them.
With the help of Neefe, the Breunings, and the archbishop-elector, Beethoven,...
(The entire section is 1927 words.)
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