Beethoven 3

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Beethoven Events of the day matter less in a study of Beethoven (1770-1827) than they do in most other composers. However, certain factors need to be taken into consideration when one is looking at his composition method. He never moved from Vienna and only ever left the city for any lengthy period either to take a summer holiday - which was only a holiday in the sense that he could devote himself to composition more entirely without interruption - or to visit Baden and elsewhere for the sake of his general health or in his attempts to find a cure for his deafness. In Vienna his success as a composer centred around performances in friends houses or in the concert hall. He was not always in poverty but never became rich and died poor. Almost the whole of the remainder of his life story is the series of difficulties he had with money matters, his troubles with sponging relatives, the opposition to his work by professional musicians and the faithful admiration extended to him by amateurs.

Outside the purely personal considerations one must not overlook the drastic changes which passed over the whole of European society in Beethoven's lifetime. Twice during the most productive part of Beethoven's life, Vienna was occupied by Napoleon's armies but his work went steadily forward. Nevertheless, the ideas that brought those armies into existence was sweeping across Europe. The spirit of independent thought and action was stirring and it was this that eventually gave birth to the inventive genius of the 19th century. It animated the poetic thought of Goethe and Schiller and infused itself into the music of Beethoven from the Sonata Appassionata to the ninth symphony.

This spirit might be the strongest reason for Beethoven's slow working and his comparatively small output. Haydn...