The life of Ludwig van Beethoven is a remarkable one, filled with extraordinary events that shaped his music and his legacy.
Born in 1770, the son of a court officer, young Ludwig received an excellent education. He was extremely intelligent and managed to learn French, Italian, and English as well as Latin and Greek. This helped him learn musical theory and terminology later on in life.
At the age of eleven, Beethoven began his musical career by earning money as a piano teacher. At this time, it was uncommon for children to be paid for such a job, but due to the lack of income his family had, he had to start working early. Later on in his life he would remember these early years with bitterness, stating that he “was forced into [his] occupation” (Encarta).
These two early facts about Beethoven’s childhood set the stage for what was to come later in his life. At the age of twenty-two he had his first major success with his composition Bagatelle No. 25 (Für Elise), better known as “the lover’s necklace”.
By the age of 11, Beethoven was composing his own music and performing his own compositions. By the age of 12, he had already performed his first symphony.
By this time, he was also teaching other musicians how to play the piano and violin. Not only was he earning money by teaching others, but he also gained new friends which helped him spread his name.
Beethoven took care of his brothers and mother for several years after his father left. He later married a wealthy woman who took care of him during his illness. Thanks to her support, he was able to focus on his music and continue to succeed.
Early in his career, Beethoven made a deal with a publisher that would pay him an agreed-upon amount for each piece of music he wrote. If the piece was short (like a symphony) then he would get less money than if it were a longer piece (such as a piano sonata).
The composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770. He first started to compose at the age of eight, and by the time he was eleven, he had already gained a reputation as a musical genius.
By this time, he had also become the primary financial supporter of his mother and two brothers. His father had died several years before Beethoven began supporting his family.
Beethoven was not a wealthy man, however. In fact, most of his earnings went to supporting his family. This is why, even after becoming one of the greatest composers of all time, he still had to live with his brother.
Despite this, he remained close with his family until the end of his life. After his death in 1827, Beethoven’s brother continued to inherit parts of his estate until 1853.
Beethoven was influenced by many people throughout his life. His mother, Maria Magdalena, and his father, Johann, both had a strong influence on him.
His mother raised him until he was five years old, at which point he went to live with his father. Although Beethoven never mentioned his mother in any of his writings or works, it is widely believed that many of the qualities he admired in women were inherited from her.
Many of his compositions display a strong sense of rhythm and steady beat, which may have been inspired by the way he recalled his mother doing housework. She is also thought to have been a strong influence on his personality and temperament.
Beethoven’s father was an alcoholic and was frequently abusive toward him and his mother. This had a significant impact on Beethoven’s life, leading to things such as anxiety and depression.
By the age of eleven, Beethoven had composed several symphonies and masses, earning him recognition across Vienna. He had also begun studying with famous Viennese composer Joseph Haydn, who taught him composition techniques and introduced him to important figures in music.
By this time, his father was unable to provide any financial support, so Beethoven took on the role of provider for his family. He gave music lessons and worked as a court musician for the prince elector of Cologne.
Despite his growing success as a composer, Beethoven remained close with his family. In 1787, he moved into a house next door to his mother where he lived until her death in 1807. After this time, he relocated to Vienna where he lived until his death in 1827.
Composers did not typically begin producing great works until their middle to late twenties. Some even waited until their thirties or forties to produce their best work.
Beethoven was no exception. Although he began composing at age eight, his first professional paid jobs were at age nineteen. By the time he was twenty, he had several works produced and performed.
However, by the time he was twenty-five, he had become quite famous as a composer. By this time, he had started to suffer from hearing loss and mental illness. Despite this, he continued to produce music and work until his death at age fifty.
Many of his later compositions were either unfinished or published posthumously. Some critics argue that some of these are his greatest pieces due to the complexity and immense creativity present in them.
Death of his mother
In 1787, when he was ten, his father died. This left him as the man of the house, so to speak. His mother took over his father’s business affairs and Beethoven became the breadwinner of the family.
He gave lessons to earn money and also picked up more jobs like delivering wine and piano rentals. He even paid for most of his brother’s tuition!
Beethoven went to university for a short time but dropped out due to financial difficulties and because he felt that he had accomplished all that the institution could teach him. At this point in his life, he was already becoming well-known as a musician and composer.
Despite this success, however, Beethoven struggled with money management. He invested heavily in government bonds but the value of these plummeted at one point, leaving him struggling to make ends meet.
Becomes the head of the family
At the age of eleven, Beethoven became the head of the family. His father had died several years prior and his mother had become ill. He took on the responsibility of supporting his mother and two brothers.
Beethoven was a hardworking and ambitious man. Even though he was already very busy with his music, he also took on extra jobs to help support his family. He was a court musician which paid him annually but didn’t necessarily require that much of his time. He also gave private music lessons which probably helped him earn some extra money.
Even though he had a lot on his plate, Beethoven never let that get in the way of his music. He was very dedicated to his work and put in a lot of effort into it.
Fame comes to Beethoven
As Beethoven became more and more famous, his income grew as well. Unfortunately, his spending did not!
By his late twenties, he was spending all of his money on alcohol. He would even take money from his publishers to pay for his drinks.
His friends had to constantly watch out for him, making sure he didn’t spend all of his money on liquor. They would take away the cash he had on him and drink the liquor in front of him to prevent this.
Even when he was completely drunk, his friends couldn’t convince him that he was wasting all of his money.