December 2020 marks the 250th birth anniversary of composer Ludwig van Beethoven, considered by many to be the greatest composer who ever lived. “City Lights” is getting a jump start on that celebration with its “Beethoven 250” series. WABE music contributor Dr. Scott Stewart joined the show on this curated tour of this celebrated musical master.
Beethoven composed a great deal of music during his youth and early twenties when he was essentially reproducing Classical forms reminiscent of Haydn and Mozart. Before long, he would veer off into a more experimental approach that would usher in the Romantic style.
The young Beethoven was a piano and composing superstar, who was raised at the height of Mozart and Haydn. Side note, he was a pupil of Haydn’s for a while, and is alleged to have met and played for Mozart.
He also grew up in the political turmoil of revolutionary Europe. Beethoven was 19-years-old when the French Revolution broke out. He was making a name for himself during the Reign of Terror and the Napoleonic Wars. He even had to travel through warring Austrian and Prussian troops when he moved from Bonn to Vienna.
In Beethoven’s personal life, he was abused by an alcoholic father. He also suffered many ailments including chronic abdominal pain, joint problems, and eye inflammation. He became a heavy drinker and was found to have cirrhosis of the liver after he died. He’s notably known for his depression that was brought on by his increasing deafness.
For better or worse, he was the perfect portrait of the Romantic era’s conception of the “struggling artist.”