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A Journey through Aesthetic Realms

Celebrating the 250th Birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven, Part 2 of 3

2020-12-11
Language:English

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In our last episode we learned about Beethoven’s childhood, early youth and young adulthood events that lead to his first compositional style period with musical works greatly influenced by Haydn and Mozart. Today we retrace history back to Beethoven’s middle period, commonly accepted as the end of 1802 to 1815, when his musical genius began to mature and evolve. Many of Beethoven’s well-known large scale works come from these productive years, including six symphonies from the Third to Eighth, his only opera, “Fidelio,” his only violin concerto, the last two piano concertos, a few overtures, some chamber music pieces such as string quartets Nos. 7-11, and seven piano sonatas. In this middle period, Beethoven goes beyond the normal conventions of classicism and begins to add human elements into his music; the struggles, the triumphs, and the joy. Sometimes people call this stage in life Beethoven’s “Heroic” period. As early as 1797 or 1798, Beethoven started to experience the loss of hearing. Dependant on intricate sounds, this was a tragic dark cloud that enshrouded the great composer. Beethoven courageously wrestled with his cruel fate with a mighty strength of will to fulfil his musical purpose. He composed the Tempest sonata and sketched the inspirations for his Third Symphony while living in Heiligenstadt. In the autumn of 1802, Beethoven returned to Vienna with inspiration for a “new path” to pursue. This marked the beginning of his change in style, to infuse music with more depth of emotion, earnest expressions, and originality. In a letter to his friend Dr. Franz Wegeler in 1801, Beethoven declared that he would not let deafness defeat him, challenging his fate he wrote, “It shall certainly not bend and crush me completely.” His Fifth Symphony is a manifestation of his fearless courage and mighty determination. From the first note to the last, the inspiring power and emotional intensity of the piece speaks of Beethoven’s struggles and celebrates his triumph.
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