Reference Entry

Beethoven, Ludwig van (opera)

Douglas Johnson

in Oxford Music Online

Published in print December 1992 |
Published online January 2002 | e-ISBN: 9781561592630 | DOI:

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(b Bonn, bap. Dec 17, 1770; d Vienna, March 26, 1827). German composer . He lived for 21 years in Bonn, where his father and grandfather served as musicians at the court of the Electorate of Cologne. He was already composing by the age of 11. By 1784 he held an official appointment as organist, assisting his teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe. His first-hand experience with opera probably began when he joined the court orchestra as a viola player in 1789. In his last Bonn years he wrote his first music related to the theatre: two arias for bass, an aria for soprano and the Ritterballett, a set of seven short dances in old German costume that was performed at a court entertainment in March 1791. It is not known whether the three vocal pieces were performed.

At the end of 1792 Beethoven went to Vienna to study with Joseph Haydn. He remained there for the rest of his life. During his first five years in Vienna he made his reputation as a pianist, and it was primarily music for the piano – sonatas, variations, a variety of chamber works and two concertos – that occupied him as a composer. This began to change in the late 1790s. He wrote three string trios, six quartets and finally his First Symphony, which was performed in his first important concert, in ...

Reference Entry.  3459 words. 

Subjects: Opera

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