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18. - 19. století

Ludwig van Beethoven

A long underappreciated maestro
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He was a prominent German composer and pianist, who stood at the turning point between the Classical and Romantic eras. He was Joseph Hayden’s student.
After 1796, Beethoven started loosing his sense of hearing and his condition gradually worsened. When composing on his piano, he would fasten a small stick on it that was connected to the sounding board and which Beethoven would bite into, so as to accentuate his perception of the vibrations. He also suffered from uncontrollable fits of rage, only to regret them once over. Modern forensic techniques of the 20th century found out that the probable cause of these seizures was a slow and continual lead poisoning. Lead was indeed present everywhere in daily life, in medicine and in articles of daily use.
He came from a family led by a despotic father, who was a tenor at the elector’s court. He taught Ludwig from an early age and in a very harsh manner, often under the influence of alcohol. Young Beethoven’s talent

gradually started to develop in Bonn, after he had escaped from the influence of his despotic father. Following the death of his mother, Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792, where he associated with prominent musicians of his time (except for the greatest among them, Mozart, who was already dead).
His work can be divided into three periods. In the early period until about 1802, he dedicated to the Classical repertoire and used the influence of his predecessors. Among his major pieces we can mention the Moon Sonata. The second, heroic period lasted until 1814 and was a full reaction to his bitter life and the loss of his sense of hearing. The main representative of this period is the opera Fidelio. The last period marked by Romanticism started after 1815 and is characterized by its innovative spirit and originality. This period’s major piece is the Symphony No 9.
Beethoven died prematurely, most probably as the consequence of lead poisoning, in 1827.


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