Friday, December 14, 2007

Beethoven

Since Beethoven is my favorite, I will begin with him.

He was born in 1770, Dec. 15 or 16 in Bonn, Germany. He was one of the most famous and influential composers of the 1800's. He was generally regarded as the "emancipator of music", because he established the vocation of composer as a dignified profession. He brought new force and flexibility to music. His creative genius inspires much of todays music. Beethoven held the job of court organist at the age of 14. His father was a drunken singer, and scarcely took care of his family. Therefore, the money young Beethoven earned helped his family. He went to Vienna in 1787, where he met Wolfgang A. Mozart, who immediately recognized his genius. He returned to his hometown however, because of his mothers illness. She died shortly after he returned, and he had to support his brothers.

Beethoven gave music lessons (which he hated doing) for a time in Bonn and played the viola in the theater orchestra. He settled in Vienna in 1792, and studied with Joseph Haydn and other masters. There, in 1795, he appeared as a pianist, and won great success. But at 28, he realized he was loosing his hearing. He soon had to give up concert work and devote his entire time to composing, while he struggled against poverty, ill health, and growing deafness. By 1819, he could only communicate by writing. During this time, he produced some of his greatest works. When he died, he had won recognition from some of the greatest minds of his time. He is buried in the famed central cemetery of Vienna near the tombs of Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Gluck, Schubert, and Hugo Wolf, all famous composers.

He wrote nine symphonies, and had started a tenth when he died. He also wrote 32 piano sonatas. These are just a few of his many works.

Much of the time, Beethoven had a hot tempered personality. He was also neglectful of himself. He spent so much time at the piano composing, he would often forget to eat. This is probably a big contribution to his illness, which caused an early death. He was against God most of his life, but it is reported he had a change of heart not long before his death. Doctors where unable to identify his illness, and even today, it is unsure what it was he suffered, since he burned most of his medical records.

Fun Story

A young composer went to Beethoven, looking for approval on a piece he had written. Beethoven flipped through the score, hardly seeming to glance at the pages. 'He is only being polite, and pretending to look at it', thought the young man. But then, Beethoven turned back to a page and pointed to a measure."That note doesn't go well there", he said.

So much for thinking I can sight read!

favorite pieces

Sonata no.8, Op.13 (Pathetique) all three movements.

Sonata no.17,Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest") 1rst movement.

Sonata no.14, Op.27, No.2 ("Moonlight")

Rondo a Capriccio, Op. 129 ("Rage over a lost penny")

Symphony No.5

15 comments:

jimmy said...

I have a question... Beethoven is not the only classical composer to hold an anti-God stance for the greater part of his life. How could such a man write music that would 'glorify' the Lord?


Sorry to be the stick in the mud, but I'm not that familiar with classical music of any sort (or its composers for that matter), but I have heard bits and pieces about the lives of certain of these men.

Anyway, thanks for your time!

artisan said...

Ah, this is a most curious thing isn't it? And a good question worthy of a good answer. So I will try to answer as best I can. First of all, I have asked this same question myself. Why do so many people view classical type music as "christian" music when many of it's composers (though not all) do not even claim the name of christ? And what is the difference between them and the modern composers? Well, there isn't really, and I listen to all kinds of genres, provided the lyrics are clean, and the music is good.
Music is a reflection of nature. That can be good, and that can be bad. For instance, if it reflects immorality, then I leave it alone. But music can be good wether the composer means it to or not. Philippians 1:15 says "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife..." and in verse 16, "The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:" in verse 18 "what then? not withstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, christ is preached..." So you see God used these people to get the gospel out, even though their intentions were wrong. I think it is the same with music. Music often reflects God and the world he made, and glorifies Him whether the composer meant it to or not.
Ok, this is much longer than I meant it to be! But I hope that answers your question. This is such a huge subject, you could probably start a whole forum for it and discuss nothing els,lol.
Thanks for taking the time to read.

jimmy said...

This is logical and understandable; however, curiosity compells me to question the oft- qouted phrase 'music is a reflection of nature'. What makes it so, and where is the evidence of this in nature or nature's laws?


Now, concerning the scripture, I'm not sure that I see a direct corrolation between the gospel and music. Although I understand the analogy, the gospel was an important message to be spread, and, consequently, God used every means possible. I'm not totally convinced that music is the same way...


You don't have to answer this if you don't have time, it's just the musings of what some would call a "loopy" mind.

Thanks again for the time

artisan said...

I don't want to argue about music, as past experiences tell me we will get nowhere. But I will try to clear things up a bit, as I think I am probably being misunderstood about what I think about music. But it is my turn to ask a question. What are your opinions on music? What is music to you? I have stated mine opinions. Now I am curious, after reading your comments, what yours are. I will also state, so that you know, and in case you're afraid of offending me by mentioning other kinds of music, I listen to music that would be classified as "rock" and "pop". I enjoy classical very much, and especially like playing it, but I also enjoy artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Green, Avalon, and a lot more. I know people who base what they think is right to listen to by what they think sounds good, and I certainly don't want to be like that.
And to me, music does reflect nature, though I am not sure I mean the same thing as others do when they say that. I think what a lot of people think is that all other kinds of music are against nature, because they break all the "rules". I have yet to hear broken rules in most modern music, and a lot of the classical "rules" are ridiculous, and we are not limited to them.
Also, I was not trying to make a direct correlation between the gospel and music. It was an analogy. Does any of this make sense? I must sound like I'm babbling!

jimmy said...

Sorry about the way I presented that last comment... I don't want to argue music because, as you say, it gets absolutely nowhere. I have argued it with many people, to no avail.
I'm not sure exactly what music is to me. I don't understand what makes music inherently right or wrong; I've had the 'rules' speal thrown at me, but nobody can pinpoint what these rules are, where they come from, or what they do. I currently judge my music primarily by the lyrics. Alot of people still don't know this about me, and would be shocked to know it, but I don't know what can make music right or wrong, excusing lyrics. So, whether it be contemperary christian to country to rock to rap, I don't know that anyone can point a definitive finger and say this makes it wrong. Now, there are certain kinds of music that do not even sound good, even though they have 'good' lyrics, so I don't listen to them for that reason... This probably doesn't make much sense to you, but it's what comes to mind right now.


Btw, I know that you were only creating an analogy with the gospel story, I guess I didn't make myself clear there.

artisan said...

O no, it make perfect sense. I go by the lyrics far more than the music too. I sometimes wonder if my friends know what kind of music I listen too, and if they would freak out if they did know. I haven't heard much music that I thought was wrong, except for some really repulsive sounding stuff, but I don't really like to think of music as mediocre. If it were we wouldn't enjoy it so much. As far as rules go, People only use that as an excuse to condemn music they don't like. They say things like, "you can't go from a one chord to a major third" or "you can't put emphases on the 3rd beat" and so on and so forth. Whatever! Anyway, enough of that.
But I am interested in knowing who your favorite artist are. I mentioned a few contemporary artists already...are you familiar with them? I forgot to mention I like Toby Mac too...

jimmy said...

Yeah, I'm familiar with most christian artists... Toby Mac is awesome; while we're on the subject of him, I like alot of dc talk's productions (shame they had to split up)
the only one I like from mercy me is "only imagine"...
casting pearls is fun to listen to sometimes...
oh, and you can't forget sarah groves...

and I really like some of phillips, craig and dean's work.

artisan said...

Oh yeah, I love dc talk, I have some of their stuff on my computer (I stole Elise's albums for that) I used to be kind of a Michael Card fan, but I got really tired of him, we listened to him so much. I like a little country too. Select songs of country artists, that is. Such as "So Small" from Carry Underwood. I guess I kind of have a weird taste for music. Classical, country, christian rock, well you get the idea. Oh, don't forget the katinas (I love their song "freedom") and down here (who have this song called "What it's like" or something like that, it used to get played on the radio all the time) Good grief, there is getting to be a long line of comments here!

Have you ever heard the Transsiberian Orchestra's version of "Carol of the Bells"? It's kinda rocked up...

artisan said...

A few comments on "rules of music"...
Most people who have not studied music theory, do not compose or write music, often do not realize every time they listen to a song, whether it is classical, rock, rap, or anything else, they are hearing rules. Here is one basic rule that is always applied to all music. All music is built around this chord formation. Major 1, major 4, major 5, and minor 6. This is what enables me to play by ear so well. It is what I call a "natural" rule, because nobody made it up, they only discovered it.

Now I will add, incase of confusion, that I am a christian, therefore I have given this site a christian theme, but that does not mean all the biographies I put up here will be of christian men. I am doing this because I enjoy classical music, and I really like to study the history of those talented composers. By the way, even the ones who where christian were actually catholic...

jimmy said...

Ok, I'm not sure that I understand that 'rule' or how it aplies to music... All I know about majors and minors is that majors are in the millitary and minors are people under the age of 18. So, obviously, that rule makes NO sense to me since I don't know what those things are...

artisan said...

LOL. As I said, if you don't study music theory...

jimmy said...

So what kinds of music (if any) violate this major/minor rule?

artisan said...

None violate that particular rule, or at least not that I have heard. When I spoke of that rule, I was defending rock and roll, because it holds to that rule, though certain people say that it doesn't.

Are you asking because you don't know theory, and therefore wouldn't know the answer, or are you trying to make a point of something? Just curious.

I actually kind of like the fact that rock music follows all the same rules classical music does, because it really makes the the classical only people look like they don't know what they're talking about. O dear, I am being naughty. I'd better stop.

jimmy said...

Are you asking because you don't know theory, and therefore wouldn't know the answer, or are you trying to make a point of something? Just curious.

It was kind of both... I didn't know the answer, but I did know that either way you answered, it would make a point...


So, a piece of classical music has the same basic structure as, let's say, 'forsaken' by skillet? That's kinda cool.

artisan said...

Yep. I like it! By careful study and lots of listening, I have found it to be kinda like a house...they're all the same, yet different.

It's funny, every time I post a composers biography, I suddenly remember a whole bunch of things about that person I forgot to tell about...grrr.