250 years of Ludwig van Beethoven

What are we celebrating in 2020? When exactly was Beethoven born? Who inspired him as a musician? At what age did he start loosing his sense of hearing? What is the “HeiligenstädterTestament”?

The exact birth date of Ludwig van Beethoven is unfortunately not known. The baptism on December 17, 1770 is documented in Bonn. Thus the 250th birthday of the world famous composer will be celebrated in 2020. He is considered the accomplisher of Viennese classical music and a pioneer of romanticism.

He came from a family of musicians, his eponymous grandfather and his father Johann were tenors of the court chapel in Bonn. At the age of seven, Beethoven appeared as a pianist for the first time in public.

At the age of 17, Beethoven came to Vienna for the first time. He wanted to be a student of composition with Mozart. After 14 days, however, he had to go back to Bonn because of a serious illness of his mother. It is not documented whether there was ever a meeting with Mozart.

In 1792 Beethoven returned to Vienna and completed his studies with Joseph Haydn, whom he had already met in Bonn. In Vienna the doors were open for him and he was very much appreciated. He was certainly considered eccentric, but everybody could see his brilliant talent.

He had many patrons at the Viennese court, including Archduke Rudolf, as well as the princes Kinsky and Lobkowitz. A hearing disorder, the first signs of which were seen in his mid-twenties, worsened to complete deafness at almost fifty.

In the Heiligenstädter Testament of 1802, he complained about his increasing deafness, which triggered a mental crisis in him. It was a letter to his brothers, but it was never sent. He tried to cure his hearing problems in the thermal springs at the time in Heiligenstadt. Unfortunately without success.

On March 26, 1827, he died at the age of 57 in Vienna of liver cirrhosis. His funeral procession was attended by many personalities, such as Franz Schubert. He was first buried at the Währinger Cemetery. Today his grave is at the Vienna Central Cemetery.

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