The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers

By Arthur Elson | Go to book overview

XII

BEETHOVEN

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN was born at Bonn, probably on December 16, 1770. There is some doubt about the day, while Beethoven himself used to assert that his birth-year was 1772. He was of Belgian descent, his grandfather having come from Antwerp to the Electoral Chapel at Bonn in 1733. His father was a singer in the chapel. His mother was of low degree, being the daughter of a cook; but she was much more useful in the household than her shiftless husband.

Mozart's precocity and childish success served as an example which other fathers desired to see their sons emulate. This was the case in the Beethoven family, as well as in Weber's. But Beethoven was scarcely a child-prodigy; and his father was certainly not the man to develop one. The father was dissipated and worthless, and his efforts to train the child were irregular and severe. With a boon companion named Pfeiffer, he would rout out the youngster at all hours of the day or night, and force him roughly to the keyboard. Visitors sometimes saw him shedding tears at the piano; and it is a wonder that his father's harshness did not drive him to hate music. He did play in public when eight years old, and he composed at ten; but he was not the money-making prodigy that his indigent father desired.

At twelve Beethoven began taking lessons of his first good teacher, the court organist, Neefe. That worthy pedagogue gave his pupil an excellent training in Bach's works, and inspired him with a real love of good music. At this time he composed some early sonatas, and an admirable two-voiced fugue. In the next year the young Beethoven became cembalist at the theatre, leading the orchestra from the keyboard in the usual fashion of the time. A year later he was made assistant organist.

In 1787 the Elector sent Beethoven to Vienna for a time. There he met Mozart, who was astounded at his power of improvisation,

-108-

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The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Part I - The Evolution of Music 1
  • Part I the Evolution of Music 2
  • I - Primitive and Savage Music 3
  • II - Greece and Rome 13
  • III - Early Christian Music 23
  • IV - The Minstrel Knights 31
  • V - The Schools of Counterpoint 42
  • VI - The Harmonic Style 58
  • Part II - The Great Composers 67
  • Part II the Great Composers 68
  • VII - Bach 69
  • VIII - Handel 77
  • IX - Gluck 85
  • X - Haydn 91
  • XI - Mozart 98
  • XII - Beethoven 108
  • XIII - Schubert 120
  • XIV - Weber and Romanticism 128
  • XV - Mendelssohn 135
  • XVI - Schumman 143
  • XVII - Chopin 151
  • XVIII - Italian Opera 158
  • XIX - Cherubini and French Opera 170
  • XX - Berlioz and Other Frenchmen 179
  • XXI - Liszt and His Circle 188
  • Part III - Musical Form 307
  • XXXI - Melody and Appreciation 309
  • XXXII - Figures and Phrases 317
  • XXXIII - The Song-Forms 324
  • XXXIV - The Rondos 331
  • XXXV - The Sonata-Allegro Form 336
  • XXXVI - Other Sonata Movements 341
  • XXXVII - The Orchestral Forms 345
  • XXXVIII Dances and Piano Styles - Dances and Piano Styles 351
  • XXXIX - The Vocal Forms 360
  • XL - The Contrapuntal Forms 366
  • Part IV - The Instruments 376
  • XLI - The Piano and Its Predecessors 377
  • XLII - The Organ 384
  • XLIII - The Voice 391
  • XLIV - The Violin 398
  • XLV - Other Bowed Instruments *
  • XLVI - Plucked-String Instruments 413
  • XLVII - Flute and Piccolo 420
  • XLVIII - Oboe and English Horn *
  • XLIX - The Bassoons 433
  • L the Clarinets 438
  • Li Horns, Trumpets, and Cornets 444
  • Lii Trombones and Tubas 450
  • Liii Instruments of Percussion 456
  • Part V - Special Topics 463
  • LIV - Some Famous Pianists 465
  • LV - Some Famous Singers 474
  • LVI - Violinists and Violin Music 483
  • LVII - Orchestration 491
  • LVIII - Conducting 496
  • Lix Acoustics 503
  • LX - How to Read Music 515
  • LXI - Modern Music 538
  • Appendix 569
  • Index 581
  • Index to Supplementary Chapter 606
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