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Ludwig van Beethoven: Things You Didn't Know About the World's Greatest Composer


German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven is often called the greatest musical genius in history. Even those of us who don't know Stravinsky's Strauss can hum the opening bars of Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony", and he is famous for the tragic irony of losing his hearing. However, you learned a lot more for this complex talent than in middle school music class. Let's look at the things you didn't know about the world's greatest composer, Ludwig van Beethoven.

A musical prodigy with an alcoholic father

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in the German city of Bonn on December 16, 1770, to Johann and Maria Magdalena van Beethoven. Little Wiggy was named after his grandfather, who was a prominent musician, although Johann, Try He was average at best. He was hired as a court singer, but was probably hired mostly because he was a fun party nerd, especially when he drank. Thus, when Johann van Beethoven saw a glimpse of musical talent in his young son, he sought to transform the lad into the great composer he himself could not be.


Outrageous music lessons

Johann van Beethoven began teaching his son music when he was a young boy, probably four years old. He was a rogue executive, implementing a grueling and rigorous training program with no room for play time. According to the stories, his father lashed out at Ludwig while the boy was standing at the piano, and every wrong note, hesitation, or break from proper technique resulted in a beating. Most days, young Ludwig cried through his lessons, and he was regularly deprived of food and sleep and locked in a cell as punishment. When Ludwig extended his father's musical knowledge, Johann arranged for the boy to take lessons from other musicians in the city. He also recognized Ludwig van Beethoven's extraordinary talent, although he was (hopefully) a little polite with him.


Seven-year-old Beethoven's first concert

Eager to show off his son's musical talent, Johann van Beethoven arranged for his son to perform his first public piano recital on March 26, 1778. Hoping to capitalize on the novelty of a child musical prodigy, Johann promoted the concert as starring a "younger six-year-old son" when Ludwig was actually an old man of seven. Ludwig was described as a shy and reserved boy. But he found that he loved being in the spotlight. After that first successful concert, Ludwig continued his hard training and performed private concerts for the city's elite.

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