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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Ludwig van Beethoven, a German composer, is universally recognized as one of the greatest composers who ever lived. Young Beethoven’s musical gifts were acknowledged by Mozart and Hadyn, and his piano virtuosity and extraordinary compositions won him the generous support of the Viennese aristocracy despite his notoriously boorish manners. Despite the onset of deafness, which became progressively worse and was total by 1 817, his creative work was never restricted. Beethoven’s work may be divided into three distinct periods. The early works, influenced by the tradition of Mozart and Haydn, include the First and Second Symphonies, the first three piano concertos, and a number of piano sonatas, including the “Pathétique.” From 1802, his work broke the formal conventions of classical music. This most productive middle period included the Th ird Symphony ("Eroica"); the Fourth through Eighth Symphonies; his one Violin Concerto; and his sole opera, Fidelio.

Beethoven’s final period, dating from about 1816, is characterized by works of greater depth, including the Hammerklavier Sonata; the monumental Ninth Symphony, with its choral finale based on Schiller’s "Ode to Joy"; the Missa Solemnis; and the last five string quartets. A prolific composer, Beethoven produced numerous smaller works besides his major symphonies, concertos, sonatas, and quartets. His work crowned the classical per iod and initiated the romantic era in music.


For more information about the life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven, check out these other websites:

The Classical Music Pages: Ludwig van Beethoven
An excerpt from the Grove Dictionary of Music on Beethoven’s life, as well as a short list of his works.
Johan Alkerstedt’s Beethoven Page
A more detailed look at Beethoven’s life, along with portraits and busts of the composer. Johan has complied a fairly complete list of Beethoven’s works, although his commentary covers the symphonies and other instrumental works rather than the choral works such as the Missa Solemnis.
Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis
Compilied by Professor Tom Neenan at the California Institute of Technology, this site contains music criticism as well as biographical and bibliographical resources on the Missa Solemnis

Vocal Works Performed by SFBC

Instrumental Works Performed by SFBC

  • Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat, Op. 19

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