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Ludwig van Beethoven

(1770-1827)

Beethoven’s Early Period

COMMENTARY

Early Life (cont.)

MUSIC OF THE BONN PERIOD

(Often considered the first “true” period of Beethoven)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: idolized by Beethoven

Important Points

  • Beethoven's earliest music was naturally motivated by his keyboard talents
  • His first "piece" was his Dressler Variations for piano of 1782 (age 11)
  • The music of this period is heavily influenced by Mozart, whom Beethoven idolized (on one of his sketches from this period, he wrote down the following words: "this entire passage has been stolen from the Mozart Symphony in C") The exceptions are the two Cantatas (see below), which begin to show Beethoven's own musical voice.

Other works of the Bonn period include:

  • three "Electoral" Sonatas for piano, dedicated to Maximilian Friedrich
  • three quartets for piano and strings
  • two Cantatas, the Joseph Cantata, and Leopold Cantata

Historical Interlude:

"Please note that of all the great Classical composers (i.e. Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart!) only Beethoven lived through the following periods:

  • Pre-French Revolution
  • French Revolution
  • Napoleonic Europe
  • Post-Napoleonic Europe

This is an important point to mull over. It has ramifications in many directions: patronage, musical style, earning possibilities, changing role of the composer and artist in society, social upheavals and their effects, etc. Ponder these things, especially when you consider the trajectory and development of Beethoven's musical style.