Although his exact birthdate is unknown, it is believed that Ludwig Van Beethoven was born on December 16, 1770 in Bonn, Germany. This date is assumed because the records show he was baptized on December 17, 1770 (“Beethoven’s childhood” 3). The custom at that time was to baptize children the day following their birth. Beethoven was born into a musical family. Beethoven was named after his grandfather, Lodewijk van Beethoven, who was a bass singer at court and later a maestro of the chapel. His parents were Johann van Beethoven, a musician in the Electoral Court at Bonn, and Maria-Magdalena Kewerich. Of the seven children born to Johann and Maria-Magdalena, only Ludwig and his two younger brothers, Karl Beethoven and Nikolaus Johann Beethoven survived past infancy. Beethoven’s grandfather and mother provided a positive influence in Beethoven’s life.
Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father. Once Johann noticed his son’s talent, he tried to make Beethoven into the next Mozart. At this point, Beethoven’s childhood and life was greatly affected by his father’s cruelty, harshness, alcoholism, and attempts to make him a child prodigy. Johann tried to portray Beethoven as another child, musical genius like Mozart. Beethoven made his first public recital on March 26, 1778, where his father advertised him as a six-year-old. That was Mozart’s age when he first played in public. Beethoven was actually seven years old at that time. This attempt by Johann to have Beethoven compared to Mozart failed.
In 1782, Beethoven experiences his first real teacher, Christian Gottlob Neefe. Neefe had a profound effect on Beethoven, and their friendship continued for years. Neefe not only wanted to educate Beethoven in music but wanted to improve his lack of self-restraint, discipline, and culture. Neefe introduced Beethoven to the works of great composers to do this. Neefe had him study Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Haydn. Beethoven’s first compositions weren’t his best works, but they began to improve in his early teens due to the influence of Mozart. During this time, Beethoven decided he wanted to be one of Mozart’s students so he traveled to Vienna in 1787 to do this. He meets with Mozart, who agrees to teach him. Unfortunately, Beethoven’s mother became ill at this time, and he returned home to attend to his mother and brothers. By the time he returned to Vienna, Mozart had died.
Beethoven continued his studies when he was admitted to Bonn University in 1789. During this time he met Joseph Haydn, a great German composer, who became his teacher for over a year. Both Mozart and Haydn had a profound effect on Beethoven’s involvement with classical music. His studies continued with Johann Abrechtsberger, who “taught him the heart of counterpoint, which brought Beethoven his glory (“Beethoven’s Rise to fame 1792-1805” 3). Beethoven used this time of his life to expand his knowledge with the teachings of Antonio Salieri – bourgeois musical tragedy and Alois Forster...