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The Dramatic Life Of Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Deaf Musical Master

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Ronita Das

Content Writer

17 Apr,2017

Ludwig Van Beethoven is a legend and a classic maestro in the music industry. One of the most talented, influential and successful musicians of the classic style, Beethoven has set a position which no one can take over.  His contributions to the classic music, including beautiful sonatas, serenades, string quarto and much more are beyond words. Being born in a musical family didn’t make his life any easy; instead, he had to fight his own disability to achieve what his passionate was.  

“To play without passion is inexcusable!” - Beethoven

Early Years

Beethoven was born on (or about) December 16, 1770, in the city of Bonn in the Electorate of Cologne, a principality of the Holy Roman Empire. His exact date of birth is a little uncertain as he was baptized on December 17, 1770. Baptism is a custom in Christianity where babies are baptized within 24 hours of birth; hence December 16 is his most likely birth date. His father, Johann van Beethoven, was a mediocre court singer, but he was better known for his alcoholism than any musical ability. Beethoven's grandfather, godfather, and namesake, Kapellmeister Ludwig van Beethoven, was Bonn's most affluent and eminent musician, a source of endless pride for young Ludwig and his two younger brothers. With a family full of popular musicians what problem could he have faced? He had bigger problems though which the others might see it as fragile. In spite of the luxury and wealth, Beethoven’s life was sort of troublesome.

“The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, thus far and no farther.” -Beethoven

However, something only a few people know about is how much he had to struggle and suffer before he managed to achieve such memorable goals and be immortalized in the history of music. His parents always fought over his father’s serious drinking problems. Beethoven received violin and piano lessons from his father at a very early age, not as his passion but to keep up the family tradition. His alcoholic father often abused him and forced him to practice at all times. At the time of any mistake, he would slam the piano cover on his knuckles and make him play it over again. His childhood and adolescence were becoming difficult each day due to his father’s harsh discipline and alcoholism.

A Troubled Childhood And Adolescence

"Music comes to me more readily than words." - Beethove

Beethoven struggled with sums and spelling his entire life and bore criticism for the same from all over. Due to this, some biographers have hypothesized that he may have had mild dyslexia. At the age of 10, Beethoven withdrew from school to study music full time with Christian Gottlob Neefe, the newly appointed Court Organist. It was Neefe who introduced Beethoven to Bach, and at the age of twelve, he published his first composition, a set of piano variations on a theme by an obscure classical composer named Dressler. He was slowly progressing when his mother died out of Tuberculosis and his father’s alcoholism worsened having no proper income in the house. Without any option, Beethoven had to take up the job as Assistant Court Organist and was put on the court payroll with a modest annual salary of 150 florins.

Losing His Hearing Power

Beethoven was at the peak of his career and was composing great and immortal work while struggling to come to terms with a shocking and terrible fact, one that he tried desperately to conceal. It began from hearing buzzing noises to slowly turning completely deaf. His ears were one thing he needed the most to listen to his compositions. All this made him grumpy, irritable and less socialized. There was a time when he actually thought of even ending his life.

At this time of distress, Beethoven revealed in a heart-wrenching 1801 letter to his friend Franz Wegeler "I must confess that I lead a miserable life. For almost two years I have ceased to attend any social functions, just because I find it impossible to say to people: I am deaf. If I had any other profession, I might be able to cope with my infirmity; but in my profession, it is a terrible handicap."

Not Giving Up

Once told by a teacher that he had no future as a composer, today even after his death people can’t get over him. An immortal legend has become the greatest classical music composers of all time. Nothing could stop him, the discouragement, the physical challenges as well as intense family situation. His will and passion let him fight through all odds and come up as a shining star.

“Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us, and never stop learning” - Beethoven

About Author

Ronita Das

Creativity is where my heart belongs. With strong willpower and determination, I believe, ‘A pen is mightier than sword’. Writing is what calms me down. Being a social butterfly, I can go on talking, but when it comes to working I can be a real night owl. Never saying a no for a work, I strongly follow my passion for writing.

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