On This Day, December 16

December 16, 2017 § Leave a comment

1770

Ludwig Van Beethoven was born in 1770.

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven when composing the Missa Solemnis, Joseph Karl Stieler (1781–1858), 1820

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) when composing the Missa Solemnis, Joseph Karl Stieler (1781–1858), 1820. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Beethoven’s music is all the more amazing because he wrote so much of it when he was almost or totally deaf. At the end of the premiere of the Ninth Symphony, the composer had to be turned around to see the ovation he could not hear.

Beethoven Symphony #9 in D minor Opus 125, 4th movement. Leonard Bernstein, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

If you’re going to write a big symphony, you might as well make it the biggest one ever composed (at the time). And if you’re going to make it about something, you might as well make it about the triumphant union of mankind. No pressure, then. Beethoven’s final symphony is a beast, but arguably the most rewarding of all of them. Listen to how the opening of the first movement turns from aimless wandering to mammoth crashes, the skipping strings in the second and the choral splendour of the finale… Everywhere you look in this epic symphony there’s something to enjoy. So as you stand on the sofa, shouting along with the Ode To Joy and knocking your cup of tea over, remember that all this noise was made by someone who was, by this point, almost entirely deaf.

(Source: Classic FM)

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Where to start with Beethoven’s symphonies? It’s tempting to think it’s just too much effort to plough through all of them, but with our handy symphony-by-symphony guide, you can listen out for the important bits and really get the most out of these monumental works. Let’s start at the beginning… » Beethoven’s Symphonies: Where To Start

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