19.06.2015 |

Episode #3 of the course “Famous classical music composers”

Ludwig van Beethoven was a late 18th century and early 19th century German composer and pianist. He is known for his expansive and expressive, dramatic symphony arrangements, his intricate concertos, and his moving sonatas. For nearly the last decade of his life, Beethoven lost his hearing but continued to write music through the vibrations he could feel from a piano. He was one of most influential composers of his day, and he remains one of the most acclaimed and studied musicians of modern times.

Beethoven was considered a revolutionary in music because of his ability to improvise, integrate different styles of music, and compose for a wide range of instruments. Art critics and art historians typically divide Beethoven’s career into three periods: his early years, his middle (or “heroic”) period, and the later years. Beethoven’s early work is said to take a great deal of inspiration from Mozart, and his two greatest known works come from his later periods of life.

Although he composed dozens of sonatas, one of Beethoven’s most well-known pieces is Moonlight Sonata, which is technically called “Piano Sonata 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No 2.” The song was dedicated to a woman with whom Beethoven may have had a long-term love affair. When one listener commented that the song sounded like moonlight on a lake, the nickname “Moonlight Sonata” stuck.



One of Beethoven’s other most popular pieces, his Symphony No.9 in D-minor, is his only complete symphony; he wrote it after losing nearly all of his hearing, and it requires more instruments than any other Beethoven composition.



Beethoven redefined the possibilities of orchestral arrangement. By reorganizing his symphony from the classic structure and by focusing heavily on contrapuntal arrangement, Beethoven pushed people’s expectations of sound. His music is featured twice on a recording of Earth sounds that plays on the deep-space Voyager probes.


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