long ... or ta-
taaa... That's not a new hip-
hop beat, but the start of a magnificent piece of music that was given its first performance a whole 204 years ago. The Fifth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven was played for the first time in Vienna in December 1808. The so-
called "Fate" symphony is one of Beethoven's best-
known works and a piece that, once heard, remains in the memory.
Ludwig van Beethoven
© AP Photos
Ludwig van Beethoven's date of birth in Bonn in the winter of 1770 was not precisely recorded. But we know the date of his christening: 17.12.1770. Beethoven was born into a family of musicians. His father and grandfather, after whom he was named, were singers and musical directors at the court of the electoral prince. Under these circumstances, it was to be expected that Ludwig would also possess musical talent. Moreover, at this time Mozart
was famous as an infant prodigy, and Beethoven's father wanted to turn his son into one as well.
Ludwig received piano, organ and composition lessons and gave his first performance as a "wunderkind" in March 1778 in Cologne -
at the age of only seven.
His father's plan worked: as a 14-
old, Beethoven became a member of the Bonn court orchestra and earned money playing there. It is said that he played to Mozart during a stay in Vienna and that the latter was very impressed by Beethoven's ability. Five years later, he went to Vienna to further his studies. There, he took lessons with famous composers such as Joseph Haydn. Vienna was a city of music lovers, counts and princes. They gave Beethoven financial support and organised halls for him to give concerts. Beethoven was a celebrated artist. It was only his health problems that clouded his life. For, as early as 1802 – when he was aged only 32 -
Beethoven's hearing began to deteriorate: a hard fate for a musician. But he continued to compose music nonetheless: his only opera, Fidelio, symphonies, piano sonatas, string quartets and concertos. From 1818 onwards, no "normal" conversation with Beethoven was possible anymore; he talked with people using a conversation book. But even as a deaf musician he continued to write pieces, and ones that remain successful to this day. For example, you are sure to have heard a part of Beethoven's 9th Symphony: the "Ode to Joy" is the European
anthem, written to a text by Friedrich Schiller
. Ludwig van Beethoven died in Vienna on 26 March 1827 -
185 years ago today.