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
Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas / Maurizio Pollini
Release Date: 02/24/2015   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002235002   Number of Discs: 8
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Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 8; Brahms: String Sextet
Release Date: 05/12/2015   Label: Onyx  
Catalog: 4154   Number of Discs: 1
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Beethoven: Complete Symphonies / Bruggen
Release Date: 10/14/2014   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002161102   Number of Discs: 7
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Beethoven: Complete Piano Concertos, Vol. 1 - Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5
Release Date: 05/12/2015   Label: Challenge  
Catalog: 72672   Number of Discs: 1
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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Vol 3 / Christian Leotta
Release Date: 06/29/2010   Label: Atma Classique  
Catalog: 2488   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Symphony no 6 "Pastoral"

 

I. Awakening of Cheerful Feelings Upon Arrival in the Country: Allegro ma non troppo
II. Scene by the Brook: Andante molto mosso
III. Merry Gathering of Country Folk: Allegro
IV. Thunderstorm: Allegro
V. Shepherd's Song: Happy and Thankful Feelings after the Storm: Allegretto
About This Work
For roughly 175 years, the music appreciation racket has told us that Beethoven composed symphonies in contrasting odd-even pairs after 1803, none more startling than the heaven-storming Fifth and bucolic Sixth. Originally, however, he assigned the Read more designation of "No. 5" to the Pastoral for their shared debut on surely the most historic night in Western music, December 22, 1808. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the unheated Theater an der Wien, he premiered both symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto, "Choral" Fantasy, "Ah! perfido!" (a concert aria from 1796), and introduced a Viennese audience to excerpts from the C major Mass, an Esterházy commission of 1807 that Prince Nicolaus II disliked when he heard it.

Beethoven began making specific notes for a "Sinfonia pastorale" in 1806, but didn't complete the work until 1808, in the village of Heiligenstadt northwest of Vienna. If this had been an unlikely hatchery in 1807 for the fist-brandishing Fifth Symphony, it perfectly suited -- as he noted in his sketchbook -- "recollections of country life...more the expression of feeling than of painting" in his ensuing woodwind-drenched symphony (although violins get first crack at nine of its 12 significant themes).

"Cheerful impressions wakened by arrival in the country" (Allegro ma non troppo, in F major, 2/4) is the first movement. It is in sonata form, pretty much by the book, with violins introducing all themes. The second-movement "Scene by the brook" (Andante molto moto, in B flat major and 12/8 time) is a Sonata structure again, but more relaxed, with a limpid main theme for violins and a bassoon sub-theme. In the coda, the flute impersonates a nightingale, the oboe a quail, and the clarinet a cuckoo. The third movement, "Merry gathering of country folk" (Allegro, 3/4 time, F major), is an expanded song-and-trio, with a 2/4 section in "tempo d'Allegro" that creates the effect of an ABCABCA structure, leading without pause to the fourth movement, "Thunderstorm; tempest" (Allegro; F minor, 4/4). From the first raindrop to last, this is purely depictive music. It is followed by a 10-bar chorale that segues the final "Shepherd's song; glad and grateful tidings after the storm" (Allegretto; F major, 6/8), a sonata-rondo, whose C-section some have called a development section. The fun includes a sly parody of amateur musicians before the long, progressively tranquil coda that ends with a pianistic gesture: two fortissimo chords.

-- Roger Dettmer, All Music Guide Read less

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Conductors

Ensembles

Ludwig van Beethoven


WORKS
Beethoven: Symphony No.3 In E Flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 1. Allegro con brio
Beethoven: Symphony No.3 In E Flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 2. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)
Beethoven: Symphony No.3 In E Flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
Beethoven: Symphony No.3 In E Flat, Op.55 -"Eroica" - 4. Finale (Allegro molto)
Beethoven: Symphony No.5 In C Minor, Op.67 - 1. Allegro con brio
Beethoven: Symphony No.5 In C Minor, Op.67 - 2. Andante con moto
Beethoven: Symphony No.5 In C Minor, Op.67 - 3. Allegro
Beethoven: Symphony No.5 In C Minor, Op.67 - 4. Allegro
I. Awakening of Cheerful Feelings Upon Arrival in the Country: Allegro ma non troppo
II. Scene by the Brook: Andante molto mosso
III. Merry Gathering of Country Folk: Allegro
IV. Thunderstorm: Allegro
V. Shepherd's Song: Happy and Thankful Feelings after the Storm: Allegretto
Beethoven: Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92 - 1. Poco sostenuto - Vivace
Beethoven: Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92 - 2. Allegretto
Beethoven: Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92 - 3. Presto - Assai meno presto
Beethoven: Symphony No.7 In A, Op.92 - 4. Allegro con brio
Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 1. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 2. Molto vivace
Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 3. Adagio molto e cantabile
Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" - 4. Presto
Beethoven: Symphony No.9 In D Minor, Op.125 - "Choral" / 4. - Presto - "O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!" - Allegro assai
Concerto No. 3 in C minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 37: I. Allegro con brio
II. Largo
III. Rondo: Allegro
I. Allegro con brio
II. Adagio
III. Rondo. Molto allegro
Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 73 "Emperor": I. Allegro
II. Adagio un poco moto
III. Rondo. Allegro
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61: First movement: Allegro ma non troppo (Cadenza by Kreisler)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61: Second movement: Larghetto
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61: Third movement: Rondo (Allegro) (Cadenza by Kreisler)
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.14 In C Sharp Minor, Op.27 No.2 -"Moonlight" - 1. Adagio sostenuto
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.14 In C Sharp Minor, Op.27 No.2 -"Moonlight" - 2. Allegretto
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.14 In C Sharp Minor, Op.27 No.2 -"Moonlight" - 3. Presto agitato
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.23 In F Minor, Op.57 -"Appassionata" - 1. Allegro assai
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.23 In F Minor, Op.57 -"Appassionata" - 2. Andante con moto
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.23 In F Minor, Op.57 -"Appassionata" - 3. Allegro ma non troppo
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.8 In C Minor, Op.13 -"Pathétique" - 1. Grave - Allegro di molto e con brio
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.8 In C Minor, Op.13 -"Pathétique" - 2. Adagio cantabile
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.8 In C Minor, Op.13 -"Pathétique" - 3. Rondo (Allegro)
Kyrie
Gloria
Credo
Sanctus
Agnus Dei


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