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Ludwig van Beethoven:
Beethoven the Pianist

Beethoven was a pianist. During his lifetime, the piano changed quite a bit, and those changes were reflected in the music Beethoven composed for the intstrument. William Black, head of the piano department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, talks with Naomi Lewin about how Beethoven's music followed the development of the piano.

Music heard in this episode:
Haydn: Harpsichord Concerto
Beethoven: Sonata #21 “Waldstein”
Beethoven: Sonata #14 “Moonlight”
Beethoven: Sonata #8 “Pathetique”
Beethoven: Sonata #17 “Tempest”
Beethoven: Sonata #14 “Moonlight”

Other shows about Ludwig van Beethoven:
About Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven's Symphonies
Music that Imitates Inanimate Objects
Roll Over Beethoven

Download this month's activity sheet

About Ludwig van Beethoven
12/16/1770 - 3/26/1827
Born in Germany

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany. His father, who was a singer, was his first teacher. After a while, even though he was still only a boy, Ludwig became a traveling performer, and soon, he was supporting his family.

In his early twenties, Beethoven moved to Vienna, where he spent the rest of his life. Beethoven was one of the first composers to make a living without being employed by the church or a member of the nobility. At first, he was known as a brilliant pianist. But when he was around 30 years old, Beethoven started going deaf. Even though he could no longer hear well enough to play the piano, Beethoven composed some of his best music after he was deaf!

Beethoven is considered one of the greatest musical geniuses who ever lived. He may be most famous for his nine symphonies, but he also wrote many other kinds of music: chamber and choral music, piano music and string quartets, and an opera.

See other composers born in Germany


This Week's Quiz:

1. Inside a harpsichord, the strings are plucked by little quills.



2.Inside a piano, the strings are hit by hammers.



3. Many of Beethoven's piano sonatas show how large the piano keyboard of his time was.




Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 8

Composed in 1812
Performed by Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Bela Drahos, conductor

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