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Beethoven's Early Life

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Early life and talent

KurfÐ"јrstliches Schloss (Electoral Prince's Castle) in Bonn, where the Beethoven family had been active since the 1730s

House of birth, Bonn, Bonngasse

Beethoven's parents were Johann van Beethoven (1740 in BonnвЂ"1792) and Maria Magdalena Keverich (1744 in EhrenbreitsteinвЂ"1787). Magdalena's father Johann Heinrich Keverich had been Chef at the court of the Archbishopric of Trier at Festung Ehrenbreitstein fortress opposite to Koblenz.[2] Beethoven was, like their first child Ludwig Maria, named after his grandfather Ludwig (1712вЂ"1773), a musician of Roman Catholic Flemish ancestry who was at one time Kapellmeister at the court of Clemens August of Bavaria, the Prince-Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, and who married Beethoven's grandmother Maria Josepha Ball (1714вЂ"1775) in 1733.

Beethoven was born in Bonn, Electorate of Cologne, in 1770. Of the seven children born to Johann Beethoven, himself the only survivor of three, only second-born Ludwig and two younger brothers survived infancy. Beethoven was baptized on December 17, 1770.[3][4] Although his birth date is not known for certain, his family celebrated his birthday on December 16.

Beethoven's first music teacher was his father, who was a tenor in the service of the Electoral court at Bonn. He was reportedly a harsh instructor. Johann later engaged a friend, Tobias Pfeiffer, to preside over his son's musical training, and it is said Johann and his friend would at times come home late from a night of drinking to pull young Ludwig out of bed to practice until morning. Beethoven's talent was recognized at a very early age, and by 1778 he was studying the organ and viola in addition to the piano. His most important teacher in Bonn was Christian Gottlob Neefe,[5] who was the Court's Organist. Neefe helped Beethoven publish his first composition: a set of keyboard variations.

A portrait of the thirteen-year-old Beethoven by an unknown Bonn master

The young Beethoven's talent was spotted in Bonn by Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein, who became one of his early patrons and, in 1787, enabled him to travel to Vienna for the first time, in hopes of studying with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is not clear whether he succeeded in meeting Mozart, or if he did whether Mozart was willing to accept him as a pupil; see Mozart and Beethoven. In any event, the declining health of Beethoven's mother, dying of tuberculosis, forced him to return home after only about two weeks in Vienna. Beethoven's mother died on July 17, 1787, when Beethoven was 16.[6]

Due to his father's worsening alcohol addiction, Beethoven became responsible for raising his two younger brothers.

[edit]The move to Vienna

In 1792, Beethoven moved to Vienna, where he studied for a time with Joseph Haydn: his hopes of studying with Mozart had been shattered by Mozart's death the previous year. Beethoven received additional instruction from Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (Vienna's pre-eminent counterpoint instructor) and Antonio Salieri. By 1793, Beethoven established a reputation in Vienna as a piano virtuoso.[7] His first works with opus numbers, a set of three piano trios, appeared in 1795. 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 supported himself through a combination of annual stipends or single gifts from members of the aristocracy; income from subscription concerts, concerts, and lessons; and proceeds from sales of his works.

Beethoven’s patrons loved his music but were not quick to support him. He eventually came to rely more on patrons such as Count Franz Joseph Kinsky, (d. 1811), Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz (1772вЂ"1816) and Karl Alois Johann-Nepomuk Vinzenz, FÐ"јrst Lichnowsky, and as these patrons died or reneged on their pledges, Beethoven fell into debt. In 1807, Prince Lobkowitz advised Beethoven to apply for the position of composer of the Imperial Theatres, but the nobility who had newly been placed in charge of the post did not respond. Beethoven considered leaving Vienna: in the fall of 1808, he was offered a position as chapel maestro at the court of Jerome Bonaparte, the king of Westphalia, which he accepted. To persuade him to stay in Vienna, the Archduke Rudolf, Count Kinsky and Prince Lobkowitz, after receiving representations from the composer’s friends, pledged to pay Beethoven a pension of 4000 florins a year. Only Archduke Rudolf paid his share

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