Beethoven - LIFE IN VIENNA

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In this image, of Beethoven composing at his piano in his Vienna apartment, we see the maestro as the artist Carl Schloesser (1832-1914) imagined him in a painting he created, circa 1890. The image depicts a 19th-century print, based on Schloesser’s work, called “Beethoven Composing in His Study.”


Beethoven had much to learn and moved to Vienna to study.  It was a good break for him, in more ways than one.

While still in Bonn, Ludwig had fallen in love with his friend, Eleonore von Beuning.  She, however, did not want a romantic relationship.  Writing to Eleonore from Vienna, to patch-up a quarrel which had erupted between them, Beethoven was able to repair whatever damage he had caused.

Twenty-one when he left Bonn for Vienna, Beethoven was pleased when Joseph Haydn - then the most-famous composer in Europe - invited him to be a pupil.  Haydn had learned that Beethoven was "brilliant." 

The two men did not always see eye-to-eye.  Every true artist, said Beethoven, must find his own path.  Haydn, then in his twilight years (and composing famous works like "The Creation"), observed Beethoven was "a young man in a hurry."  He believed, however, that one day people everywhere would know about him.

Soon after he arrived in Vienna, Ludwig lost his father.  He did not return to Bonn for the funeral - or for anything else.  Getting on with his life, Beethoven must have thought that nothing (or no one) could hold him back.

Though impressed with his student's compositions, Haydn (who often signed his own work in Italian) believed they were a bit complicated.  Expressing his thoughts, that the public might not be ready for such emotional works, Haydn (who died in Vienna, in 1809) was shocked when Beethoven stormed out of a performance.

Despite Haydn’s cautions, Beethoven wanted to make his works distinctive.  He wasn't interested in copying what others did.  Finding his own way, he would compose what made sense to him - not what made sense to others.

He applied the same concept to his piano playing.  Beethoven's skill was extraordinary.  His unique ability to constantly improvise helped to catapult him into the top tier of Vienna's most sought-after performers. Although he played the same work as other skilled musicians, the music did not sound the same under his command.

Life, in Vienna, was becoming very good for Beethoven.  Happy with his own compositions, he was also idolized by the public.  He wrote to friends that his life had changed for the better. 

In 1801, Beethoven dedicated his Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor - known as the "Moonlight Sonata" after Beethoven's death - to his pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi.  He gave it the subtitle, "Sonata in the Manner of a Fantasia." 

The Moonlight Sonata begins with a slow movement - rare for the time period in which Beethoven wrote it  - and reflects his incredible talent for improvisation.  Its dedication reflects something else:  Ludwig had fallen in love with another pupil. 

Once again, however, Beethoven's romantic ideas came to naught. Although Giulietta cared for her friend and teacher, she did not marry him.

Another disturbing event, for Ludwig, occurred at about the same time.  While walking with a friend, Beethoven was engrossed in conversation.  Then, the soft sounds of a flute filled the air.  The friend commented how beautiful it was. 

"What?," Beethoven wanted to know. 

"The sounds of a flute," his friend replied.  "So simple, yet so beautiful."

Ludwig thought his friend was joking.  He did not hear the sound of a flute at all.

Working in Vienna, Beethoven was busy composing. To the outside world, including those individuals who commissioned his work, all was well.  But inside Beethoven, health issues were becoming bigger concerns. 

His ears "buzzed and hummed," day and night - a disaster for an accomplished musician building a career.  He wrote to his friend, Franz Wegeler, that he didn't go out much.  Why risk having to tell anyone he was going deaf?

The extent of Beethoven's deafness came on gradually, over a ten-year period.  When it became hard for him to understand what people said to him, he panicked.

A feeling that time was running out began to overwhelm him.  An almost-manic response to that worry began to surface in letters to his brother.  Everything Beethoven had fought so hard to achieve seemed in jeopardy.

To cope with his growing deafness, Beethoven began writing symphonies.  At breakneck speed, he worked on several projects at once.  "I live entirely in my music," he said.  "At my current rate, I'm often composing three or four more works at the same time." 

His Second Symphony reflects its creator’s internal struggle.  Characterized by ferocious speeds, in various sections, the work is trend-setting. 

Meanwhile ... his love life was completely in shambles. 

Giulietta Guicciardi heard rumors that Beethoven might be losing his hearing ... how would that impact a musician?  Yes ... he played his compositions brilliantly - no one else could touch his mastery - but what did that do for his personal life?  Nothing, really ... and that fact presented another exceedingly bad problem for Ludwig.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2009

Updated Last Revision: Mar 23, 2015

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"LIFE IN VIENNA" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 01, 2009. Feb 18, 2020.
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