The Fourth of July is almost here. In fact, I'm hearing all sorts of illegal fireworks in my neighborhood already. Most cities have huge firework shows scheduled for the holiday...except my city due to huge austerity cuts.....but that's a different blog post.
Anyway, I am willing to bet $5 that most of the cities' fireworks will have a classical music medley accompanying the firework spectacular. And, usually that medley includes at least a snippet of Beethoven, most likely Ode to Joy. That piece, coincidentally was the first (and last) classical music piece that I learned to play on the violin...before I gave it up because I already had a weight problem, glasses, braces and acne. Add a violin to that and I was a 5th grade walking punching bag.
But, this isn't about my awkward years. This is about Beethoven! Yay!
So here's the intel on Ludwig Van Beethoven:
He was born in Bonn in 1770. His pops worked as a tenor at the court of the Elector of Cologne and also taught piano and violin on the side to pick up some extra scratch.
So, it follows that Ludwig would have been musically inclined. Ludwig's dad really wanted him to be the next Mozart: a child musical prodigy. So Dina Lohan....I mean, Ludwig's dad pushed his son into the spotlight way before he was ready.
Beethoven adjusted to his prodigy status and soon left for Vienna to pursue his musical career. But, while he was in Vienna, he received news that his mother had passed away and that his dad had lapsed into deep alcoholism. So, Ludwig had to take care of his younger siblings. Since his dad was being a complete jagoff, Ludwig obtained a court order to have half of his dad's wages sent to him in Vienna so that he could distribute the funds to his siblings. Yep, they had wage garnering back then.
Ludwig was making a name for himself and playing all over courts in Germany and Austria. He was kind of like a rock star and fell in love with almost every empress, duchess, etc. that he ran into. But, despite his talents, he was not worthy of marrying any of them. According to what I found, sometimes it came down to the fact that he was Ludwig Van Beethoven. Apparently the dutch Van is not as fancy-pants as the German Von. Old timey people were so weird.
And, just as soon as his star was beginning to rise, good old Ludwig was going deaf. It is speculated that his deafness could have been due to any number of things; including: lead poisoning, typhus, or syphilis (it seems like every old timey artist I write about had syphilis).
In 1811, he fell very ill. He wrote a letter to his "Immortal Beloved." This mysterious Immortal Beloved was most likely Josephine Brunsvik. A married woman. Of course.
Sidenote: watch the movie Immortal Beloved. It's good and it's got Gary Oldman in it:)
Even after his deafness and illness, Beethoven continued composing. Out of this "later" period came Symphony number 9, which included the aforementioned Ode to Joy.
Ludwig Van Beethoven died in 1827. The causes of his death are disputed, although an autopsy revealed severe liver damage. It's theorized that he died from either alcoholic cirrhosis, syphilis, or infectious hepatitis. I repeat, Rock Star.
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