Ludwig van Beethoven is arguably one of the most influential classical music composers of all time.
This German composer made his mark in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in classical music.
Even those who can’t name any of his works have heard his compositions somewhere in the world.
Take a look at these 30 facts about Ludwig van Beethoven – a renowned artist that you probably never knew much about!
- Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, in December 1770. The actual date of his birth is unknown.
- As a failed singer, Beethoven’s father pushed his own hopes on his son by forcing him to practice for hours on end every day.
- His father would often beat him when he played the wrong notes.
- Beethoven had to leave school at age 11 to help support his family. Because of this, he never learned multiplication or division.
- Although Beethoven had 6 other siblings, four of them died during his lifetime.
- By the time he was 18, Beethoven was the main supplier of income for his family.
- As he was growing up, Beethoven’s father told him that he was born in 1772, not 1770. This was to give the illusion that his son was younger than he actually was, and therefore making his talents seem more remarkable. Beethoven himself didn’t find out the truth until years later.
- Impressively, Beethoven published his first composition when he was 12. On top of that, it was written in C minor which was a strange choice for the time, and quite challenging to play.
- Sadly, Beethoven was prone to sickness and spent most of his life suffering from a vast variety of ailments such as colitis, rheumatism, rheumatic fever, typhus, skin disorders, abscesses, a series of infections, ophthalmia, inflammatory degeneration of the arteries, jaundice, chronic hepatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver.
- When Beethoven moved to Vienna in his early 20’s, he took lessons from Joseph Haydn – another significant and influential composer.
- Interestingly enough, the two lost patience with each other frequently, and subsequently didn’t like each other.
- Around when Ludwig van Beethoven started composing music, the harpsichord was dominating. However, Beethoven focused on composing for the piano, at which point no one had written complete pieces for.
- The infamous Moonlight Sonata was dedicated to Beethoven’s love interest and student, Julie Guicciardi.
- Beethoven certainly had some interesting dedications – another of which being his Symphony No. 3, titled Eroica which was dedicated to Napoleon.
- Unless his students were attractive women or overwhelmingly talented, Beethoven hated teaching piano lessons.
- At the age of 25, Beethoven’s hearing started to decline. By 27, he heard constant buzzing, and by 46 he was entirely deaf.
- Even after he gained notoriety, Beethoven always had to keep up his work to maintain a comfortable living situation.
- A group of Viennese nobles grouped together to support Beethoven with an annual salary of 4,000 florins just to stay in Vienna for them as resident virtuoso and composer.
- Beethoven was the first musician even to receive a salary just for composing whenever and whatever he wanted.
- Before he lost his hearing, Beethoven was notorious for his improvising skills.
- However, even after he lost his hearing, Ludwig van Beethoven retained perfect pitch and continued composing.
- Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was the first symphony ever composed that included parts for singers.
- It is rumored that Beethoven would usually dip his head in cold water before composing, but nobody knows why.
- An English piano builder, Thomas Broadwood, sent Beethoven a piano as a gift in 1818. However, by the time he got it, he was completely deaf and never heard a single note from it.
- After losing his hearing, Beethoven would communicate with his friends by having them write in “conversation books.”
- Some of Beethoven’s most important works were composed in the last decade of his life, at which point he was entirely deaf.
- When he was composing, Beethoven would keep sketchbooks which have mostly survived – this helps us to understand a lot about how he composed!
- Beethoven’s father was an alcoholic – a trait that Beethoven also eventually picked up.
- When he was on his death bed, a friend brought Beethoven a few bottles of wine as a gift. Beethoven responded “pity, pity, too late.” These were his last words.
- The final piece Beethoven was able to finish was the final movement of the String Quartet No. 13, Opus 130 in 1825. He passed away in 1827.