Ludwig van Beethoven

Biography

Born: 1770, Germany   Died: 1827, Austria   Period: Classical, Romantic
The events of Beethoven's life are the stuff of Romantic legend, evoking images of the solitary creator shaking his fist at Fate and finally overcoming it through a supreme effort of creative will. Born in the small German city of Bonn on or around December 16, 1770, he received his early training from his father and other local musicians. As a teenager, he earned some money as an assistant to his teacher, Christian Gottlob Neefe, then was Read more granted half of his father's salary as court musician from the Electorate of Cologne in order to care for his two younger brothers as his father gave in to alcoholism. Beethoven played viola in various orchestras, becoming friends with other players such as Antoine Reicha, Nikolaus Simrock, and Franz Ries, and began taking on composition commissions. As a member of the court chapel orchestra, he was able to travel some and meet members of the nobility, one of whom, Count Ferdinand Waldstein, would become a great friend and patron to him. Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792 to study with Haydn; despite the prickliness of their relationship, Haydn's concise humor helped form Beethoven's style. His subsequent teachers in composition were Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and Antonio Salieri. In 1794, he began his career in earnest as a pianist and composer, taking advantage whenever he could of the patronage of others. Around 1800, Beethoven began to notice his gradually encroaching deafness. His growing despondency only intensified his antisocial tendencies. However, the Symphony No. 3, "Eroica," of 1803 began a sustained period of groundbreaking creative triumph. In later years, Beethoven was plagued by personal difficulties, including a series of failed romances and a nasty custody battle over a nephew, Karl. Yet after a long period of comparative compositional inactivity lasting from about 1811 to 1817, his creative imagination triumphed once again over his troubles. Beethoven's late works, especially the last five of his 16 string quartets and the last four of his 32 piano sonatas, have an ecstatic quality in which many have found a mystical significance. Beethoven died in Vienna on March 26, 1827.
Beethoven's epochal career is often divided into early, middle, and late periods, represented, respectively, by works based on Classic-period models, by revolutionary pieces that expanded the vocabulary of music, and by compositions written in a unique, highly personal musical language incorporating elements of contrapuntal and variation writing while approaching large-scale forms with complete freedom. Though certainly subject to debate, these divisions point to the immense depth and multifariousness of Beethoven's creative personality. Beethoven profoundly transformed every genre he touched, and the music of the nineteenth century seems to grow from his compositions as if from a chrysalis. A formidable pianist, he moved the piano sonata from the drawing room to the concert hall with such ambitious and virtuosic middle-period works as the "Waldstein" (No. 21) and "Appassionata" (No. 23) sonatas. His song cycle An die ferne Geliebte of 1816 set the pattern for similar cycles by all the Romantic song composers, from Schubert to Wolf. The Romantic tradition of descriptive or "program" music began with Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony No. 6. Even in the second half of the nineteenth century, Beethoven still directly inspired both conservatives (such as Brahms, who, like Beethoven, fundamentally stayed within the confines of Classical form) and radicals (such as Wagner, who viewed the Ninth Symphony as a harbinger of his own vision of a total art work, integrating vocal and instrumental music with the other arts). In many ways revolutionary, Beethoven's music remains universally appealing because of its characteristic humanism and dramatic power. Read less
Glenn Gould Plays Beethoven
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 7685272   Number of Discs: 6
On sale!
CD: $19.99
In Stock
On sale!   $23.98   CD:  $19.99 Add CD to Cart

Rudolf Serkin Plays Beethoven
Release Date: 11/06/2012   Label: Sony (Nax615)  
Catalog: 988302   Number of Discs: 11
On sale! $31.98
CD: $27.99
In Stock
On sale!   $31.98   CD:  $27.99 Add CD to Cart

The Beethoven Journey - Piano Concerto No. 5
Release Date: 09/16/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 305886   Number of Discs: 1
On sale!
CD: $13.99
In Stock
On sale!     CD:  $13.99 Add CD to Cart

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 5 / Freire, Chailly
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002153402   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $18.98
CD: $15.99
In Stock
On sale!   $18.98   CD:  $15.99 Add CD to Cart

Beethoven: Symphonies No 1-9, Overtures... / Bernstein
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 7683912   Number of Discs: 6
On sale!
CD: $13.99
In Stock
On sale!     CD:  $13.99 Add CD to Cart

Work: Romance for Violin and Orchestra no 1 in G major, Op. 40

 

About This Work
Beethoven's reputation as a pianist often obscures the fact that he was a very capable violinist. Although not an accomplished master, he possessed a profound love for and understanding of the instrument, evident in his ten violin sonatas, the violin Read more concerto, and numerous quintets, quartets, and other chamber works. The two Romances for violin stand out because they are single-movement works in concerto settings. The Romance in G major was published in 1803 by Hoffmeister & Kühnel in Leipzig; the date of its first performance is not known. Despite the lower opus number, it was composed at least five years after the Romance in F, Op. 50, which was published in 1805. He retained the early Classical orchestra he employed for his earlier Piano Concerto in B flat, Op. 19: one flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, and strings. Often described as a "preparation" for the Violin Concerto, Op. 61, of 1806, the Romance in G stands as a fine work in its own right, clearly demonstrating Beethoven's mastery of the high-Classical style of Mozart and Haydn. Furthermore, Beethoven creates subtle connections between disparate sections of a work.

Cast in a two-episode rondo format (ABACA coda), the Romance in G is not imbued with sonata-form characteristics, as are many of Beethoven's later rondo movements. The rondo theme (A) is in two parts, each performed first by the soloist then repeated by the orchestra. Descending sixteenth notes in the solo part mark the beginning of B, in which the orchestra is relegated to a purely accompanimental role, creating unity by including figures from the rondo. Section B spends a significant amount of time on the dominant (D major); however, this does not represent a modulation but a preparation for the return of the rondo in G major. Again, the soloist performs both segments of the A section alone, this time including a running eighth note accompaniment under each of the literally repeated themes. Beethoven set the second episode, C, in E minor. The minor mode, dotted rhythms, and staccato passages give the section a "gypsy" music tinge. The foray into a new key area ends with the return of the G major rondo theme, again played by the soloist, but with accompaniment by the orchestra. Beethoven forgoes the repetition of each of the two parts of the rondo and ends the work with a brief coda featuring a lengthy trill in the solo violin. The three fortissimo chords that close the piece seem oddly, possibly comically, out of place in this generally quiet work, but they do resemble the orchestral string parts at the end of each rondo section. Read less

Select a specific Performer, Conductor or Ensemble or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below

or
ArkivMusic Recommendation



YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In