Ludwig van Beethoven


Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the greatest composers in musical history. He was born in Bonn, Germany in 1770. Both his father Johann and his grandfather Ludwig were musicians.


Early Life

Ludwig’s father gave him early musical training and hoped that the boy would become a musical genius like Mozart. He forced him to get up in the middle of the night and practise the piano.

When he was 7, Ludwig started playing in public and at the age of 13 became an assistant organist at a chapel in Cologne. In 1787 Ludwig van Beethoven travelled to Vienna where he met Mozart but after a short stay he had to go back to Bonn because his mother had died. He returned back to Vienna in 1792 , where he stayed until his death.

Vienna was one of the great musical centres of Europe during this time. Some of the city’s upper class citizens had already heard of Beethoven and were interested in his music. They gave him money to live and study. In Vienna Ludwig also met Joseph Haydn and became his pupil for a short time. The Viennese thought that Beethoven was a strange man with his untidy appearance. He had wild black hair and lived by his own rules.

During his time in Vienna he became more and more famous, gave great concerts and went on tours to Berlin and Prague.






In the late 1790s Beethoven discovered that he was slowly becoming deaf. This became a great crisis in his life. But it was during this time that Ludwig van Beethoven wrote the best works of his life. In his music he showed his joy and emotions , but also his pain. He composed his most popular symphony , the Fifth and his famous opera , Fidelio. By 1820 Beethoven became completely deaf. He didn’t show himself in public very much and spent most of his time writing music.


His last years

In his last years Beethoven created longer and more complicated works. Towards the end of his life he wrote his Ninth Symphony, which also became his last. It was a great success, even though Beethoven couldn’t hear his music. He also composed sonatas , music for string quartets . Ludwig van Beethoven died in Vienna in 1827. Many music lovers of that time came to the funeral. Since then his music has become very popular and is played in concert halls all over the world.



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  • appearance = the way someone looks
  • assistant = a person who helps someone
  • by your own rules = in your own way ; you don’t care about other people
  • chapel = a small church or a room in a church
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • completely =totally
  • complicated = not very easy and difficult to understand
  • compose = to write music
  • composer = a person who writes music
  • create = here: to write
  • deaf = if you cannot hear anything
  • force = to make you do something that you don’t want to
  • funeral = when you put a person who has died into a grave
  • genius = a person who is very , very intelligent and who can do things only a few people can do
  • joy = great happiness
  • organist = a person who play the organ
  • pain =to suffer from something that hurts you
  • practise =to play regularly so that you get better
  • public =here: in front of people
  • sonata = a piece of music with three or four parts that is written for the piano
  • stay = trip , journey
  • string quartet = four people who play instruments with strings, like the violin
  • success =if you achieve what you wanted to
  • towards =near
  • untidy = if you are not organised and don’t have things in the right place
  • Viennese = people of Vienna