What made Beethoven so special

Ludwig van Beethoven

A big problem for Beethoven was his hearing loss, which began at the age of 27 and led to his complete deafness at the age of 48. Nevertheless, he kept composing, although he could no longer hear his late works, including the famous "9th Symphony", himself.

On March 26, 1827, Beethoven died of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of only 56 after a long illness. How popular he was back then was shown at his funeral in Vienna, for which around 20,000 people are said to have gathered.

An unpredictable worker

If you deal with Beethoven's music, you will notice that it actually corresponds to the generic term under which it is classified in the German-speaking area: E-Music or "serious music". While Mozart's music is very playful and often sounds very happy, Beethoven's work is usually very dramatic.

But that is exactly what Beethoven's great merit is today. He was one of the first composers to build music dramatically. Many of his compositions culminated in a grand finale, while other composers' pieces simply ended at one point.

A certain unpredictability is also typical of his music. From the beginnings of his pieces it is usually not possible to guess how they will continue. Beethoven repeatedly incorporated completely surprising twists into his pieces.

He approached his music with an almost scientific seriousness. While Mozart got to know and almost casually absorbed many styles on his endless travels through Europe, Beethoven repeatedly took lessons from other musicians.

One of his most important sponsors was Christian Gottlob Neefe. He taught Beethoven from the age of ten and also took care of the publication of his first works. Neefe also aroused Beethoven's interest in philosophy and politics, which later found its way into his music again and again.

Especially in his early work, Beethoven always wanted to portray and address the heroic in people. Perhaps one reason why his music found more recognition among the Viennese nobility than the comparatively playful Mozart.

Music for humanity

Beethoven's work is usually divided into three phases. The early phase, which was still heavily influenced by Joseph Haydn, ended around 1802. Then came the "heroic" period of symphonies and his only opera. And finally the so-called "late work", partly created when he was already completely deaf.

Beethoven left around 340 works in the 56 years of his life, including symphonies, piano concertos, string quartets and an opera. Compared to Mozart, who wrote more than 600 works in his 35 years - some even speak of over 1000 - this sounds very little.

The reason for the smaller overall work has to do with the completely different working methods of the two composers. Mozart worked very spontaneously. Once he had written a piece, it was over for him.

Beethoven, however, worked on his works for a long time, correcting and improving them again and again, which is why he often did not get commissioned compositions ready on time.

One reason for his perfectionism is that Beethoven was one of the first musicians to assume that his musical work would also be of importance for posterity. That is why it had to meet the highest quality standards. Most other composers of that time worked with the belief that their pieces would be forgotten after a few years at the latest.