250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth infographic
Graphic shows key events in the life of Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827.
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HISTORY

Ludwig van Beethoven born 250 years ago

By Jordi Bou

December 16, 2020 - Ludwig van Beethoven, German composer and pianist, is a defining figure in the history of Western music, whose work marks the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras. His deafness in later life makes his musical accomplishments all the more astonishing.

Born in 1770* in the city of Bonn, in present-day Germany, Beethoven moved to Vienna as a young musician and went on to become one of the most celebrated composers of all time.

Rooted in the classical traditions of Mozart and Haydn, his art encompasses the new spirit of humanism and incipient nationalism of the age, as expressed in the literary works of Goethe and Schiller, the moral imperatives of Kant, and the ideals of the French Revolution, with its passionate concern for the freedom and dignity of the individual.

His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas, and 16 string quartets.

His Moonlight Sonata for the piano and dramatic four-note opening to his Fifth Symphony are among the best known pieces of classical music ever written. His Ode to Joy, part of the Ninth Symphony, has been adopted by the European Union as the Anthem of Europe.

His personal life was marked by a heroic struggle against encroaching deafness, and some of his most important works were composed during the last 10 years of his life when he had lost his hearing entirely.

*His birth date is uncertain but he was baptised on December 17, 1770, and it is thought likely that he was born the previous day.

PUBLISHED: 28/04/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Newscom
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