Happy Birthday Beethoven!

On Dec. 16*, 1770, one of the giants in classical music, the great composer and pianist, Ludwig Van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany.  Historians are in some dispute on the exact date of his birth.

*His birthday is celebrated on the 16th because he was baptized on Dec. 17, and most think that means he must have been born on the 16th.  Whether it is the 15th or 16th or 17th, we do know this would be Ludwig’s 252nd birthday.

While there may be some dispute on Beethoven’s exact birth-date, there is no dispute by any classical music fan that Beethoven is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, composer in history. Because of that consensus of greatness, this giant in classical music is sometimes referred to as simply, “the master”.

Beethoven was one of the main contributors in developing the transition from the Classical Era to the Romantic Era of music. That is why he is often mentioned in the lists of great composers in both eras of classical music. Beethoven is one of my favorite composers, and if I was forced to narrow it down to just one, Beethoven would be my top choice as my favorite composer. 

Ludwig Van Beethoven [December 16, 1770 – March 26, 1827]

Beethoven was a prolific composer, and a great composer in every genre of classical music. He composed 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, one great violin concerto, numerous piano and violin and cello sonatas, much great chamber music, works for opera and ballet and many great overtures, et. al.

A great book on the life and music of Beethoven, I have read , is “Beethoven: the Man Revealed” by John Suchet.

One of my favorite movies is Immortal Beloved, a story of the life of Beethoven set in an exciting dramatic style about the mysterious love of his life.  For anyone who hasn’t seen that movie I would suggest getting a copy of it.  It is a great movie for not just fans of classical music but for fans of a love mystery.  If you aren’t big fans of classical music before seeing the movie, you just may become classical music fans after you hear some awesome clips of Beethoven’s beautiful melodic music.

“Ode to Joy” Scene from “Immortal Beloved”:

One of Beethoven’s greatest symphonies [of his nine] and one of the most popular in the symphony genre, is his Symphony #5 in C minor. Even for many of those not familiar with classical music, they are familiar with the first 8 notes of this symphony.

I think if you would ask most classical music fans [and musicologists] what is the greatest symphony ever composed, the first that would be mentioned is Beethoven’s Choral 9th Symphony [aka, Ode To Joy]. I have been blessed to have heard this performed a few times in Jones Hall and it never fails to give me goose bumps … when it first starts and at the beginning of the final movement. It is a different feeling than just going to a concert-you know you are witnessing and hearing something special, that must have been inspired by God.

L.V. Beethoven:  Symphony #9 in D minor, “Choral-Ode to Joy”, movement 4, Recitative – Allegro:

Please turn up the volume and enjoy maybe the greatest and most beautiful piano concerto ever composed,

Beethoven’s “Emperor”, piano concerto #5 in E-Flat Major:

One of my favorite symphonies of all, is Beethoven’s beautiful Pastoral symphony, Symphony #6 in F Major:

On this final piece, Ethan Litwin, on his great classical music blog explains, Beethoven’s last published string quartet [although his second to last composed quartet] like I’ve never seen it explained before.

Now please enjoy Beethoven’s amazing String Quartet #14 in C# minor:

Happy 252nd Birthday Ludwig Van Beethoven!

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Beethoven!

  1. Thank you for the wonderful selection of Beethoven’s music. There are usually a couple of Beethoven’s pieces on high rotation on my playlist – a current favourite is Symphony No. 7. Thank you too for the movie reference, which I’ll track down.


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