Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the most famous and influential composers of all time. His grandfather and father were both musicians, so it seemed only natural to follow in their footsteps. It didn’t seem he had much say in this however and was forced sadly, not in the nicest of ways, to continuously improve.
Beethoven was the first master of the newly invented ‘pianoforte’, known today as the piano. His work is said to be very difficult, sometimes nearly impossible to play. Even today, there is still nobody in the music world that comes close to Beethoven.
Quick facts about Ludwig van Beethoven
- Born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany
- Lived in Vienna, Austria until his death in 1827
- Composer and pianist
- Played the piano, violin and the viola
- Displayed musical talents at an early age
- First public recital was aged seven
- Hearing began to deteriorate in his late twenties
- Composed in several musical genres for a variety of instruments
- Pivotal figure in the transition from the 18th century musical classicism to 19th century romanticism
- Compositional career is divided into three periods - early, middle and late
- Profound influence on subsequent generations of composers
- Liked to break rules and traditions - improvisation an important aspect of Beethoven’s playing
- In the last decade of his life he was nearly completely deaf
- Died at the age of fifty-six during a thunderstorm
- His music features twice on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes
Did you know? The third largest crater on Mercury is named in the honour of Beethoven, along with the main-belt asteroid 1815 Beethoven!
The three periods
During the ‘Middle Period’, from about 1803 up to 1814, his work expressed heroism and struggle, which tied in with him starting to lose his hearing.
The ‘Late Period’ started in 1815. Works from this period had intellectual depth, formal innovations, and intense, highly personal expression. Beethoven would have been nearly completely deaf at this point.
Examples of the important pieces from each period can be read about here.
What you’ll need to play like Beethoven
There were accounts from neighbours that as a small boy, they heard or saw Beethoven weeping while he played the clavier, standing on a stool to reach the keys, being beating by his father every time he made a mistake. There are also reports that Beethoven was flogged on a daily basis, locked in the cellar and regularly dragged out of bed for extra hours of practice, when he should have been sleeping.
We of course would never condone or suggest doing anything that extreme or brutal.
Here are our top tips of what you’ll need to have and do in order to play like Beethoven, whilst enjoying doing so:
- Find a great teacher that really inspires you
- Learn your finger numbers and rhythms
- Scales and arpeggios will help build technique and strength
- Practice your sight reading
- Complete a good method book
- Move on to some simple classical pieces
- Listen to his music
- Practice, practice, practice!
Do you think you could rival the fingers of genius pianist Ludwig van Beethoven? Try out our amazing selection of pianos to see which one sounds best to you. Come and visit our showroom or contact us today.