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Biography of Ludwig Van Beethoven


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LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN, the unrivalled composer, whose works have made a new epoch in the development of music, was born at Bonn, December 17, 1770, and died at Vienna March 26th, 1827. His father, a tenor singer in the Elector's chapel in Bonn, began to cultivate the genius of his son when only five years of age. He next placed him under the court-organist, and shortly after under the composer, Neefe. In his eighth year he created astonishment by his performance on the violin, and in his 13th year he published at Manheim, a volume of variations on a march, songs and sonatas. In 1692 he was sent to Vienna by his patron, the Elector of Cologne, to enjoy the instruction of Haydn, who first made him acquainted with the works of Handel. There he soon attracted attention by his extraordinary ability as an extempore player of fantasias, and also by some compositions, which however, did not escape the censure of critics. He became so much attached to Vienna, that after his patron's death in 1801, he determined to remain, and declined an invitation to England. In 1806, when another invitation tempted him to leave Vienna, several friends of music, with the Archduke Rudolph at their head, raised a subscription to provide for the composer a pension sufficient to retain him. At Vienna therefore, he stayed during the remainder of his life, secluded from the world, of which he knew as little as it knew of him; and in later years still more isolated from society by a defect of hearing, which gradually became confirmed into total deafness. In this sad, inviolable solitude, he produced his new symphonies, his sublime overtures, his quintetts, and quartetts, so full of profound conceptions and mysterious revelations of the highest harmonies, and his piano-forte sonatas, which express sometimes a peculiar train of feelings, at other times appear, to represent his own recluse character. Shut out in a large measure from the ordinary pleasures of life, ignorant of the sweetness of married life, and able to enjoy only in a slender measure social intercourse, he retired for compensation into the world of his own imagination, and brought forth from its deep resources, those treasures of harmony, which though at first received with a shy astonishment rather than a cordial admiration, are now ranked among the works of art which cannot die.