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Ludwig Van Beethoven

Ludwig Van Beethoven (baptised 17 December 1770 26 March 1827)

was a German composer and pianist. He was the tipping point of the
Classical and Romantic eras in Western at music as he still remains one of
the most famous and influential of all composers. His best known
compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 32 piano sonatas
and 16 string quartets. He also composed other less known chamber
music, choral works and songs.

Early Life
The German composer born in Bonn, Germany, was part of a family of
musicians like Bach and Mozart. The young Beethoven displayed musical
talent at an early age, his first teacher being his father. His father Johann
at the time was a tenor who held a low position in the court and saw his
talented son as a profitable prodigy like Mozart. As expected his father
was rumoured to be a harsh teacher, teaching him day and night in his
attempt to create a new Mozart, a child prodigy. Despite this, van
Beethoven took an interest in music. His first performance at the age of 7,
was at Cologne. Soon, the musical and teaching talents of Johann were at
its limits and Ludwig learned music, notably the organ, from other
renowned musicians such as Gottlob Neefe. Neefe recognised Beethovens
extraordinary talent not only teaching him music but he made the works
of philosophers, ancient and modern, known to Beethoven as well.
In 1782, before the age of 12, Beethoven published his first work, 9
variations in C Minor for piano on a march by Earnst Christoph Dressler.
The following year in 1783 Neefe wrote about his student in the Magazine
of Music. if he continues like this, he will be, without a doubt, the new
In June 1784, Beethoven, aged 14, was appointed organist of the court of
Maximillian Franz, the Elector of Cologne, on Neefes recommendations.
This post enabled him to frequent new social circles, other than those of
his father and family. It is here where he met people who were to remain
his friends for the rest of his life: The Ries family, the Von Breeuning
family, and the charming Elenore, Karl Amenda-the violinist, Franz
Gerhard Wegeler- a doctor, and a dear friend who also went to Vienna.
His uprising fame was evident as he at home replaced his father little by
little. First of all financially, because Johann, who was often under the
influence of alcohol, was less and less capable of keeping up his role at
the court. The young Beethoven felt responsible for his two younger

brothers, an idea he kept for the rest of his life, sometimes to the extent
of being excessive.
Prince Maximillian Franz was also aware of Beethovens musical prowess
so he sent Beethoven to Vienna, in 1787, to meet the prodigy Mozart and
further his musical education. Vienna was, after all, the capital city in
terms of culture and music. Only texts of disputable authenticity on the
subject of this meeting between Mozart and Beethoven. Mozart is thought
to have said dont forget his name you will hear it spoken often!
Soon after, a letter called Beethoven back to Bonn informing him of his
very ill mother. He returned immediately in response to the letter to take
care of his mother, the only person in his family whom he had developed a
strong and loving relationship with. Unfortunately his efforts were soon
futile as his mother passed away on July 17th 1787. The recent passing
caused his father to dive even deeper into alcoholism causing Beethoven
to take complete responsibility for the care of his two younger brothers,
spending the next five years in Bonn. During the fifth years end in 1792,
Ludwig went back to Vienna due to another grant for two years, by the
prince Elector, again the pursue his musical education. After receiving this
grant, he never returned to the town of his birth.
At Vienna, the young musician took lessons with Haydn, then with
Albrechtsberger and Salieri. With his musical prowess, he capture the
attention of, and astonished Vienna with his Virtuosity and his
improvisations on piano. In 1800, Beethoven organised a new concert at
Vienna including, notable, the presentation of his first symphony. Although
the classical work, similar to the works of Mozart and Haydn, at the time
listeners found the symphony strange, overly extravagant, and even
risqu. The young new composer was already pushing the established
boundaries of music.
As Ludwig noticed that he was going deaf, he quickly informed his friends
at Bonn of his condition. Knowing that his handicap was getting worse and
worse, he threw himself into his greatest Beethoven music; Sonatas for
piano, the second and the third symphonies and of course much more.
In the years that followed, the creative activity of the composer became
intense. He composed many symphonies, amongst which were the
Pastorl, the Coriolan Overture, and the famous Letter for Elise. He took on
young and attractive students and eventually falling in love with several of
them. The Archbishop, Redolph, brother of the emperor, also became his
student, his friend, and eventually one of his benefactors.

As Beethovens condition worsened, he continued to write pieces, until his

untimely death in 1827. He had caught a cold returning from his brothers
place in 1826. The illness interacted with other health problems that he
had suffered from all his life. He passed away surrounded by his closest
friends on March 26th 1827, just as a storm broke out.
Beethoven was, and still is, one of the most influential musicians not only
through his time, but throughout the development of music. It is not only
his music that was influential, but his story is too. The hardships of losing
a loved one, meeting other influential musicians, and the devastation of
losing the ability to hear as a musician. Despite this, he played an
essential role in the development of music. He was the singularity of
classical music and caused the transition to the romantic period.

Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 First

The piece is in sonata form and starts off by stating a distinctive four note
motif twice. Short-short-short-long (bars 1-5), from which Beethoven
manifests into other musical ideas. Following the first four bars,
Beethoven uses imitations and sequences to expand the theme(violin and
viola section, bars 39-43, and 408-414). The call and response technique
is seen being used straight after the introduction of the motif. After a short
solo by the corni, the second theme is introduced (Bar 63)

Dynamics & Expressive Techniques

When the piece starts, the motif is played in 2 fortissimo phrases
capturing the attention of the audience. There is a tendency of surprises
in this piece, noticing that there is mostly sudden changes between p f
and ff. the second theme is introduced in piano, uplifting the heaviness
from the first theme. This effect is satisfied when returning back to the
first theme in the recapitulation section.

The 5th symphony is in the key of C minor. With the use of imitations and
sequences tumbling over each other he creates the effect of it sounding
like a single melody (bar 6). This has the effect of a call and response.This
sequence is ascending which is later juxtaposed by the descending
sequence in bar 25>. The second theme is in E flat major, the relative
major and is more lyrical, also featuring the four-note motif in the string

This piece starts off with a homophonic texture with most instruments
playing the same melody (bars 1-5), later developing into some sections
having thick polyphonic textures(bars 38>). The overall texture of this
symphony is thick having the majority if not all of the orchestra playing at
once(tutti, bars 119-122), having some thin areas such as a bridge like
solo as a transitional technique to introduce a new theme/motif (Bar 60).

Tone Colour
The piece begins with an eerie dramatized feeling with the instruments
playing in a minor key(bars 1>), but later throughout the piece, the
heaviness of the current tone colour gets lifted. The cause being the key
change into E flat major.

The time signature given in this piece is a constant 2/4. While the tempo
given is Allegro con brio meaning fast and lively. Pauses are seen
throughout the piece during solos, and silence by the entire orchestra(Bar
60, and bar 123)