Two Significant Beethovens include the Grandfather. Most have read of Beethoven’s father. Mostly, about how he was alcoholic and beat his son on his ears. Before turning to drink, the father was a gifted musician. He sang tenor in chorus and in opera. His name was Johann Beethoven. As a result of the father’s drinking, the family lived in abject poverty. His small salary was wasted at the ale-house. With such unfortunate circumstances his oldest son, Ludwig, became the breadwinner of the home.
Two Significant Beethovens Were Originally Dutch as was the Father, of Course
The Beethoven family were singers at the cathedral at Antwerp. The grandfather was also named, Ludwig. In Germany, the grandfather held many important positions in the musical establishment of the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne. He was at first a solo bass singer in the opera and choir. Later he was appointed stage director. Finally he became the musical conductor at the church. He had moved earlier in the 18th century to Bonn on the Rhine.
Some significant chronology on L.v. Beethoven:
- At age 11 he was playing viola in the orchestra.
- At age 12 he was the assistant organist with the orchestra at the church.
- 6 months later he was the assistant conductor. His duties included conducting the sub-rehearsals. He arranged the music for the singers and orchestra. Also when an opera did not have a suitable aria for a great singer, he would write one. However, he never received a salary for his work until after 17 years of age. But Beethoven still laid the foundation for financial support. Here’s how:
He made a number of connections at the church. This included a wealthy lady, Frau von Breuning. He taught her son and daughter. He also befriended members of the Vienna aristocracy who were in their university days in Bonn. This included the young Count Waldstein. Beethoven dedicated his Waldstein sonata to him. Finding that the young Beethoven lacked a suitable instrument on which to practice, Waldstein had a fine grand piano sent to Beethoven in his attic room (see picture above). He also befriended Count Lichnowsky and many others. They became life long patrons.
I enjoy blogging about Ludwig van Beethoven for several reasons:
- I trace my own teachers back to Beethoven. Here’s how. I studied with Mischa Kottler. Kottler studied with Emil von Sauer. Sauer studied with Liszt. Liszt studied with Czerny. Czerny studied with Beethoven. Many of Beethoven’ s innovations were shown to me by Kottler. These included the principle of the prepared thumb.
- I have just finished my 8th yearly season as pianist at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. Management had the Steinway concert grand in the dining room rebuilt. I now play it in season. It has the finest Steinway parts. They were ordered directly from Germany.
- I also enjoy composing. Here is a sample of my own music entitled El Nino in Sarasota. Oh yes, I am available for piano lessons in Sarasota.Conclusion: Here is one formula for success for aspiring musicians and composers. It is based on this blog: (1) Get the audience. Be a church or by any other means. (2) Appeal to everyone, even the elite. Young musicians and composers need as much help as possible. I encourage all to be kind to composer/musicians that you believe could have potential. You just might have a great work dedicated to you.