Ludwig van Beethoven, an amazing musician, and composer was baptized on December 17, 1770. Back then it was accepted by society to have infants baptized within twenty-four hours of birth; therefore it is likely for the musician to have been born on the 16th of December, with lesser possibilities of being born on the 15th, in the late hours, or on the 17th in the early morning, but his birth date remains unknown because the birth certificate was wilfully destroyed.
Although his real birthdate is unknown, Beethoven’s family celebrated his birthday on December 16. Ludwig van Beethoven was born to Johann van Beethoven and Maria Magdalena Keverich in Bonn, Germany. The musician was the eldest, but he wasn’t the firstborn. Bringing unbridled joy to his parents, Ludwig wasn’t born into a normal and loving family.The young musician’s talent was recognized early on, and by the age of four, he was taught the clavier and viola. By 1778 he was learning to play the organ and viola in addition to his piano studies. Ludwig’s first musical instruction was by his father, Johann, who was a harsh, selfish alcoholic.
Later in Ludwig’s life, Johann asked his friend, Tobias Pfeiffer, to teach his son. The harsh treatment continued, as Johann and Tobias would come home late on occasion and drag young Ludwig out of bed to practice until morning. Johann drove Ludwig relatively hard in the quest to develop his musical talent. Many witness report saying they saw the small boy standing on a footstool in front of the clavier in tears. Others reported seeing the father using physical violence, even shutting the child up in a cellar. On the 26 of March 1778, an exceptional event occurred in the young musician’s life, one that has risen much myth and speculation surrounding the actions of his father, Johann.
The father staged a public concert featuring one of his vocal students, and his son Ludwig. He put up a false advertisement saying: ” Today, 26 March 1778, in the musical concert room in the Sternengasse, the Electoral Court Tenorist, Beethoven, will have the honour to produce … his little son of six years, who will perform various clavier concertos and trios … Tickets may be had at the Akademiesaal … ” (Beethoven: The Man Revealed, p. 13, l. 3-7) ” In March 1778, Ludwig was seven years and three months old” (Beethoven: The Man Revealed, p. 13, l. 8). Back then, musicians earned more money if they were younger, so Johann falsified Ludwig’s age, thinking they would earn more money and people to sponsor the child.
He thought making Ludwig appear younger would make his musical skills as the more impressive – thinking Ludwig would compare to the child prodigy Mozart. It was known all around that Mozart’s father had taken him on tour as a young child, to acclaim the amassing of substantial payments. Ludwig’s birth certificate had undoubtedly disappeared because his father destroyed the evidence deliberately.In 1787, the young composer traveled to Vienna, hoping to meet and study composition with W. A. Mozart, although it isn’t known if he succeeded in meeting or studying with Mozart.
By the age of twenty, Ludwig van Beethoven started suffering from hearing loss. However, he persisted composing, conducting, and performing, even after he was completely deaf. Beethoven became almost completely deaf by the age of 44 and wasn’t able to hear voices or different sounds. There is one report of a story about him conducting the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, having to turn around, to see the overwhelming applause of the audience. Having heard not a sound, he began to weep. Beethoven, the first musician to fully study the grand – piano or fortepiano and compose on it, passed away on March 26, 1827, at the age of 56. An autopsy, later revealed that the cause of death was a post-hepatitic cirrhosis of the liver, also providing clues to the origins of his deafness.
Ludwig van Beethoven has left us many, many wonderful musical pieces, and he remains a wonderful example of what a musician and composer should be.