Ludwig van Beethoven

Essential Albums

  • Beethoven: Concerto No. 5 & Piano Sonata No. 28
  • Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, 'Eroica'
  • Beethoven: Violin Concerto

Artist Playlists

About Ludwig van Beethoven

The most powerful creative force that classical music has ever known, Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in 1770, to a father who was a tenor. Having impressed the local nobility and audiences with his prodigious gifts as a pianist and improviser, the young Beethoven was drawn to the greater professional opportunities offered by Vienna. He settled there in 1792, first studying with Haydn and others, then setting himself up as a pianist and composer. Beethoven’s masterly performing skills and his music’s emotional depth and rhythmic energy soon made his name across Europe. The third of his nine symphonies, the “Eroica,” was completed in 1804, hugely expanding the dimensions of the genre. Within the next 10 years, Beethoven had completed an extraordinary body of work. A further five symphonies (Nos. 4-8) and four concertos (two for piano including No. 5, the “Emperor,” the Triple Concerto, and the Violin Concerto) joined his only opera, Fidelio, which he worked on for a decade, as well as additional orchestral, chamber, and piano music. His increasing and eventual total deafness would end his appearances as a pianist, yet he found he could still compose; before his death in 1827, he wrote some of his greatest works. Among these were a Ninth Symphony with its unprecedented choral finale, a large-scale Missa Solemnis for chorus and orchestra, and a final sequence of string quartets (Nos. 12-16) and piano sonatas (Nos. 27-32).

Bonn, Germany
December 17, 1770

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