Beethoven (1770-1827) • One of the greatest and most radical composers of all time. A tormented genius, who went deaf in later life and never hear his final works. His nine symphonies are probably his greatest achievement, each one an unrivaled masterpiece, but he also wrote 5 piano concertos, piano sonatas, string quartets and one opera, Fidelio
Beethoven • was a German composer of Classical music, the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest of composers, and his reputation inspired – and in some cases intimidated – composers, musicians, and audiences who were to come after him.
Beethoven • Bonn, Germany, to Johann van Beethoven (1740-1792), of Flemish origins, and Magdalena Keverich van Beethoven (1744-1787). • Beethoven's first music teacher was his father, who worked as a musician in the Electoral court at Bonn, but was also an alcoholic who beat him and unsuccessfully attempted to exhibit him as a child prodigy
Beethoven • He was given instruction and employment by Christian Gottlob Neefe, as well as financial sponsorship by the Prince-Elector • Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792, where he studied with Joseph Haydn and other teachers. He quickly established a reputation as a piano virtuoso, and more slowly as a composer. He settled into the career pattern he would follow for the remainder of his life: rather than working for the church or a noble court (as most composers before him had done), he was a freelancer, supporting himself with public performances, sales of his works, and stipends from noblemen who recognized his ability.
Beethoven • career as a composer is usually divided into Early, Middle, and Late periods • the Early period, he is seen as emulating his great predecessors Haydn and Mozart, at the same time exploring new directions and gradually expanding the scope and ambition of his work. Some important pieces from the Early period are the first and second symphonies, the first six string quartets, the first two piano concertos, and about a dozen piano sonatas, including the famous 'Pathétique'.
Beethoven • The Middle period began shortly after Beethoven's personal crisis centering around deafness, and is noted for large-scale works expressing heroism and struggle; these include many of the most famous works of classical music. The Middle period works include six symphonies (Nos. 3 – 8), the last three piano concertos and his only violin concerto, six string quartets (Nos. 7 – 11), many piano sonatas (including the 'Moonlight', 'Waldstein', and 'Appassionata'), and Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio.
Beethoven • Beethoven's Late period began around 1816 and lasted until Beethoven ceased to compose in 1826. The late works are greatly admired for their intellectual depth and their intense, highly personal expression. They include the Ninth Symphony (the 'Choral'), the Missa Solemnis, the last six string quartets and the last five piano sonatas.
Beethoven • Beethoven's personal life was troubled. Around age 28 he started to become deaf, a calamity which led him for some time to contemplate suicide. He was attracted to unattainable (married or aristocratic) women, whom he idealized; he never married. A period of low productivity from about 1812 to 1816 is thought by some scholars to have been the result of depression, resulting from Beethoven's realization that he would never marry. Beethoven quarreled, often bitterly, with his relatives and others, and frequently behaved badly to other people. He moved often from dwelling to dwelling, and had strange personal habits such as wearing filthy clothing while washing compulsively. He often had financial troubles.
Beethoven • Beethoven was often in poor health, and in 1826 his health took a drastic turn for the worse. His death in the following year is usually attributed to liver disease.
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) • was a leading composer of the Classical period, called the 'Father of the Symphony' and 'Father of the String Quartet'. • Haydn's parents were perceptive enough to notice that their little son had musical talent, and they also knew that in Rohrau he would have no chance to obtain any serious musical training. It was for this reason that they accepted a proposal from their relative Johann Matthias Franck, the schoolmaster and choirmaster in Hainburg, that Haydn be apprenticed to Franck in his home to train as a musician. Haydn thus went off with Franck to Hainburg (ten miles away) and never again lived with his parents. At the time he was not quite six.
Haydn • he did begin his musical training there, and soon was able to play both harpsichord and violin. The people of Hainburg were soon hearing him sing soprano parts in the church choir. • two years later (1740), he was brought to the attention of Georg von Reutter, the director of music in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, who was touring the provinces looking for talented choirboys. Haydn passed his audition with Reutter, and soon moved off to Vienna, where he worked for the next nine years as a chorister, the last four in the company of his younger brother Michael.
Haydn • Reutter also did little to further his choristers' musical education. However, St. Stephen's was at the time one of the leading musical centers in Europe, where new music by leading composers was constantly being performed. Haydn was able to learn a great deal by osmosis simply by serving as a professional musician there.
Haydn • In 1749, Haydn had matured physically to the point that he was no longer able to sing high choral parts. On a weak pretext, he was summarily dismissed from his job. He evidently spent one night homeless on a park bench, but was taken in by friends and began to pursue a career as a freelance musician. During this arduous period, which lasted ten years, Haydn worked many different jobs, including valet–accompanist for the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, from whom he later said he learned 'the true fundamentals of composition'. He labored to fill the gaps in his training, and eventually wrote his first string quartets and his first opera. During this time Haydn's professional reputation gradually increased.
Haydn • In 1759, or 1757 according to the New Grove Encyclopedia, Haydn received his first important position, that of Kapellmeister (music director) for Count Karl von Morzin. In this capacity, he directed the count's small orchestra, and for this ensemble wrote his first symphonies. Count Morzin soon suffered financial reverses that forced him to dismiss his musical establishment, but Haydn was quickly offered a similar job (1761) as assistant Kapellmeister to the Eszterházy family, one of the wealthiest and most important in the Austrian Empire. When the old Kapellmeister, Gregor Werner, finally died in 1766, Haydn was elevated to full Kapellmeister.
Haydn • As a liveried servant of the Eszterházys, Haydn followed them as they moved among their three main residences: the family seat in Eisenstadt, their winter palace in Vienna, and Eszterháza, a grand new palace built in rural Hungary in the 1760s. Haydn had a huge range of responsibilities, including composition, running the orchestra, playing chamber music for and with his patrons, and eventually the mounting of operatic productions. Despite the backbreaking workload, Haydn considered himself fortunate to have his job. The Eszterházy princes (first Paul Anton, then most importantly Nikolaus I) were musical connoisseurs who appreciated his work and gave him the conditions needed for his artistic development, including daily access to his own small orchestra.
Haydn • In 1760, with the security of a Kapellmeister position, Haydn married. He and his wife, the former Maria Anna Keller, did not get along, and they produced no children. Haydn may have had one or more children with Luigia Polzelli, a singer in the Eszterházy establishment with whom he carried on a long-term love affair, and often wrote to on his travels.
Haydn • During the nearly thirty years that Haydn worked in the Eszterházy household, he produced a flood of compositions, and his musical style became ever more developed. His popularity in the outside world also increased. Gradually, Haydn came to write as much for publication as for his employer, and several important works of this period, such as the Paris symphonies (1785–6) and the original orchestral version of The Seven Last Words of Christ (1786), were commissions from abroad.
Haydn • Around 1781 Haydn established a close friendship with Mozart, whose work he had already been influencing by example for many years. The two composers enjoyed playing in string quartets together. Haydn was hugely impressed with Mozart's work; it has been noted by Mozart scholars that after this time Haydn largely ceased to compose operas and concertos &ndash: two of the genres where Mozart was at his strongest. Mozart spent the better part of three years from 1782 to 1785 to produce a set of six string quartets that he would dedicate to the older man.
Haydn • In 1790, Prince Nikolaus died and was succeeded by a thoroughly unmusical prince who dismissed the entire musical establishment and put Haydn on a pension. Thus freed of his obligations, Haydn was able to accept a lucrative offer from Johann Peter Salomon, a German impresario, to visit England and conduct new symphonies with a large orchestra. • The visit (1791-2), along with a repeat visit (1794-5), was a huge success. Audiences flocked to Haydn's concerts, and he quickly achieved wealth and fame: one review called him 'incomparable', and many were filled with gushing language which reflected the acclaim his work received in London. Musically, the visits to England generated some of Haydn's best-known work, including the 'Surprise', 'Military', 'Drumroll', and 'London' symphonies, the 'Rider' quartet, and the 'Gypsy Rondo' piano trio. • The only misstep in the venture was an opera which Haydn was contracted to compose, and paid a substantial sum of money for. Only one aria was sung at the time, and 11 numbers were published, the entire opera was not performed until 1950.
Haydn • He returned to Vienna, had a large house built for himself, and turned to the composition of large religious works for chorus and orchestra. These include his two great oratorios The Creation and The Seasons and six masses for the Eszterházy family, which by this time was once again headed by a musically-inclined prince. Haydn also composed the last nine in his long series of string quartets, including the 'Emperor', 'Sunrise', and 'Fifths' quartets. Despite his increasing age, Haydn looked to the future, exclaiming once in a letter, 'how much remains to be done in this glorious art!’
Haydn • In 1802, Haydn found that an illness from which he had been suffering for some time had increased greatly in severity, to the point that he became physically unable to compose. This was doubtless very difficult for him, because, as he acknowledged, the flow of fresh musical ideas waiting to be worked out as compositions did not cease. Haydn was well cared for by his servants, and he received many visitors and public honors during his last years, but they cannot have been very happy years for him. During his illness, Haydn often found solace by sitting at the piano and playing Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser, which he had composed himself as a patriotic gesture in 1797. This melody later became used for the Austrian and Germannational anthems. • Haydn died in 1809, following an attack on Vienna by the French army under Napoleon.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) • was one of the most significant and influential of all composers of Westernclassical music. His works are loved by many and are frequently performed. • Mozart's musical ability started to become apparent when he was a toddler. He was the son of Leopold Mozart, one of Europe's leading musical pedagogues, whose influential textbook Versuch einer gründlichen Violinschule ('Essay on the fundamentals of violin playing') was published in 1756, the same year as Mozart's birth. Mozart received intensive musical training from his father, including instruction in both the piano and violin. Musically, he developed very rapidly and began to compose his own works at the age of five.
Mozart • Leopold soon realized that he could earn a substantial income by showcasing his son as a Wunderkind in the courts of Europe. Mozart's older sister, Maria Anna, nicknamed 'Nannerl', was a talented pianist and often accompanied her brother on Leopold's tours. Mozart wrote a number of piano pieces, in particular duets and duos, to play with her. On one occasion when Mozart became ill, Leopold expressed more concern over the loss of income than over Mozart's well-being. Constant travel and cold weather may have contributed to his subsequent illness later in life.
Mozart • Mozart completed several journeys throughout Europe, beginning with an exhibition in 1762 at the Court of the Prince of Bavaria in Munich, then in the same year at the Imperial Court in Vienna. A long concert tour soon followed, (three and a half years) which took him with his father to the courts of Munich, Mannheim, Paris, London, The Hague, again to Paris, and back home via Zurich, Donaueschingen, and Munich. They went to Vienna again in late 1767 and remained there until December 1768.
Mozart • After one year spent in Salzburg, three trips to Italy followed: From December 1769 to March 1771, August to December 1771, and October 1772 to March 1773. During the first of these trips, Mozart met G.B. Martini in Bologna, and was accepted as a member of the famous Accademia Filarmonica. A highlight of the Italian journey, which is now an almost legendary tale, occurred when he heard Gregorio Allegri's Miserere once in performance, then wrote it out in its entirety from memory, only returning a second time to correct minor errors.
Mozart • During his trips, Mozart met a great number of musicians and acquainted himself with the works of other great composers: Amongst them were J.S. Bach, G.F. Handel, and Joseph Haydn. Even non-musicians caught his attention: He was so taken by the sound created by Benjamin Franklin's glass harmonica, he composed several pieces of music for it.
Mozart • In 1781, Mozart visited Vienna in the company of his employer, the harsh Prince-Archbishop Colloredo, and had a falling out with him. According to Mozart's own testimony, he was dismissed literally 'with a kick in the seat of the pants.' Despite this, Mozart chose to settle and develop his career in Vienna after its aristocracy began to take an interest in him. • On August 4, 1782, he married Constanze Weber against his father's wishes. He and Constanze had six children, of whom only two survived infancy. Neither of these two, Karl Thomas (1784–1858) or Franz Xaver Wolfgang (1791–1844), married or had children.
Mozart • 1782 was an auspicious year for Mozart's career; his opera The Abduction from the Seraglio was a great success, and he began a series of concerts at which he premiered his own piano concertos as conductor and soloist. • As an adult, Mozart became a Freemason and worked fervently and successfully to convert his father before his death in 1787. His late opera The Magic Flute includes Masonic themes and allegory. He was in the same Masonic Lodge as Joseph Haydn. • Mozart's life was fraught with financial difficulty and illness. Often, he received no payment for his work, and what sums he did receive were quickly consumed by his extravagant lifestyle. • Mozart spent the year 1786 in Vienna in an apartment which may be visited today at Domgasse 5 behind St. Stephen's Cathedral; it was here that Mozart composed Le nozze di Figaro in 1786.
Mozart • Mozart's final illness and death are difficult scholarly topics, obscured by Romantic legends and replete with conflicting theories. Scholars disagree about the course of decline in Mozart's health--particularly at what point Mozart became aware of his impending death, and whether this awareness influenced his final works. The Romantic view holds that Mozart declined gradually, and that his outlook and compositions paralleled this decline. In opposition to this, some contemporary scholarship points out correspondence from Mozart's final year indicating that he was in good cheer, as well as evidence that Mozart's death was sudden and a shock to his family and friends.
Mozart • The actual cause of Mozart's death is also a matter of conjecture. His death record listed 'hitziges Frieselfieber' ('severe miliary fever'), a description that does not suffice to identify the cause as it would be diagnosed in modern medicine. In fact, dozens of theories have been proposed, which include trichinosis, mercury poisoning, and rheumatic fever. The contemporary practice of bleeding medical patients is also cited as a contributing clause. • Mozart's death occurred while he was working on his final composition, the Requiem.