Beethoven was a composer who was a native of Germany. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest composers. He produced many symphonies, concertos, piano sonatas, violin sonatas, masses, overtures and one opera. Beethoven was quite unable to hear during the latter part of his life. However it was during this time that he created some of his greatest works.
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in December 1770. Beethoven’s father was his first music teacher. It is said that Beethoven senior was a harsh instructor and treated his son very cruelly when he made a mistake. He was also taught by other local music teachers. His father tried to make him a child prodigy but it was not until the age of 12 that he published his first composition. In school he was an average student and had difficulty with spelling and numeracy. He said ‘Music comes to me more readily than words’.
Though Beethoven lived briefly in Vienna in 1787 he moved there permanently in 1792. In Vienna he gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist often playing in the salons of the Viennese nobility. As a composer he is one of the most important and influential figures in the history of music. Among his symphonies, concertos, sonatas, quartets and songs are famous pieces such as ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, Symphony No.5 and Ode to Joy from Symphony No. 9.
Beethoven composed one opera entitled Fidelio (Leonore, or The Triumph of Marital Love), which he worked on over a ten year period. It is set in a Spanish prison near Seville during the late 18th century. The opera tells the story of how Leonore, disguised as a prison guard named “Fidelio”, rescues her husband from death in a political prison.
Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, premiered at the Theater an der Wien, in Vienna in the year 1805 On This Day.