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Ludwig van Beethoven

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Biography

Bonn, Germany (1770 – 1827)

Ludwig van Beethoven (16 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a composer of the transitional period between the late Classical and early Romantic eras. He was born in Bonn, Germany.

Beethoven is widely regarded as one of the greatest masters of musical construction, sometimes sketching the architecture of a movement before he had decided upon the subject matter. He was one of the first composers to systematically and consistently use interlocking thematic devices, or “germ-motives”, to achieve unity between movements in long compositions. (Some insight into the meaning of the germ-motive device is given at the end of this bio.) Equally remarkable was his use of “source-motives”, which recurred in many different compositions and lent some unity to his life’s work. He made innovations in almost every form of music he touched. For example, he diversified even the well-crystallised form the rondo, making it more elastic and spacious, which brought it closer to sonata form. He was mostly inspired by the natural course of nature, and liked to write songs describing nature.

Beethoven composed in a great variety of genres, including symphonies, concerti, piano sonatas, other instrumental sonatas (including for violin), string quartets and other chamber music, masses, lieder, and one opera.

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