Classical Music

Classical music is a broad term that usually refers to music produced in, or rooted in the traditions of Western ecclesiastical and concert music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 9th century to present times. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice period. It is still played by many of today's musicians. When used as a synonym for Western art music, the term encompasses a range of musical styles and approaches, ranging from compositional techniques (such as fugue) to entertaining operettas. European classical music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century. Western staff notation is used by composers to prescribe to the performer the pitch, speed, meter, individual rhythms and exact execution of a piece of music. This leaves less room for practices, such as improvisation and ad libitum ornamentation, that are frequently heard in non-European art musics (compare Indian classical music and Japanese traditional music), and popular music. The public taste for and appreciation of formal music of this type waned in the late 1900s in the United States and United Kingdom in particular. Certainly this period has seen classical music falling well behind the immense commercial success of popular music, in the opinion of some, although the number of CDs sold is not indicative of the popularity of classical music. The term "classical music" did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to "canonize" the period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Beethoven as a golden age.

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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Representative Works

Sonata No.7 c Minor, Bagatelle No.25 in A minor "Für Elise", Ninth Symphony in E Flat Major "Eroica", Fifth Symphony, Symphony No. 6 in F major "Pastoral", Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor "Moonlight", Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor "Pathetique", Symphony No. 3 in E flat major "Eroica".



Ludwig van Beethoven was baptised on December 17th 1770 at Bonn. His family originated from Brabant, in Belgium. His father was musician at the Court of Bonn, with a definite weakness for drink. His mother was always described as a gentle, retiring woman, with a warm heart. Beethoven referred to her as his "best friend". The Beethoven family consisted of seven children, but only the three boys survived, of whom Beethoven was the eldest.

On March 26th 1778, at the age of 7 1/2, Beethoven gave his first know public performance, at Cologne. His father announced that he was 6 years old. Because of this, Beethoven always thought that he was younger than he actually was. Even much later, when he received a copy of his baptism certificate, he thought that it belonged to his brother Ludwig Maria, who was born two years before him, and died as a child.

In 1782, before the age of 12, Beethoven published his first work: 9 variations, in C Minor, for Piano, on a march by Ernst Christoph Dressler (WoO 63). And the following year, in 1783, Neefe wrote in the "Magazine of Music", about his student: "If he continues like this he will be, without doubt, the new Mozart".

In 1792, Beethoven moved to Vienna, where he studied for a time with Joseph Haydn: his hopes of studying with Mozart had been shattered by Mozart's death the previous year. Beethoven received additional instruction from Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (Vienna's pre-eminent counterpoint instructor) and Antonio Salieri. By 1793, Beethoven established a reputation in Vienna as a piano virtuoso. His first works with opus numbers, a set of three piano trios, appeared in 1795. He settled into the career pattern he would follow for the remainder of his life: rather than working for the church or a noble court (as most composers before him had done), he supported himself through a combination of annual stipends or single gifts from members of the aristocracy; income from subscription concerts, concerts, and lessons; and proceeds from sales of his works. Around 1796, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. He suffered a severe form of tinnitus, a "ringing" in his ears that made it hard for him to perceive and appreciate music; he also avoided conversation. He lived for a time in the small Austrian town of Heiligenstadt, just outside Vienna. Here he wrote his Heiligenstadt Testament, which records his resolution to continue living for and through his art. Over time, his hearing loss became profound: there is a well-attested story that, at the end of the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, he had to be turned around to see the tumultuous applause of the audience; hearing nothing, he began to weep. Beethoven's hearing loss did not prevent his composing music, but it made concerts, lucrative sources of income, increasingly difficult. After Beethoven lost custody of his nephew, he went into a decline that led to his death on March 26, 1827 during a thunderstorm. //

[Great Classical Music Composers]

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Classical Music: Ludwig Van Beethoven.

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