Feeling pain and dealing with emotional trauma can affect people in tremendous ways. Sometimes for better, for worse, it all depends on how the individual chooses to see it. For Ludwig van Beethoven, he chose to allow his pain and trauma to help him in his life and career.
Ludwig van Beethoven was born into a German family of musicians in late 1770. At a very young age, Beethoven became very inclined musically, and by the age of “twelve, he had several piano compositions published” ( Kamien 234). Beethoven continued to work on his music, impressing all of those with who he worked, including Mozart. His talents continue to shine and progress and by eighteen, he became an organist for the court. In addition to this, he now “was responsible for composing and performing; suddenly he was also the head of a family” ( Kamien 234). Beethoven was only eighteen when he had to gain the custody of his younger siblings due to his mother’s death and his father’s incompetence, but this did not impact his future negatively, in fact, Beethoven had moved to Vienna when he turned twenty-two and improved his work with great progress under Haydn. Through many years he worked diligently, becoming a person in the eye of the public, receiving praise for his accomplishments and talents, but all too soon he comes face to face with a challenge that completely changes his work. Ludwig van Beethoven was only at the surprisingly young age of twenty-nine when he started to lose his hearing. Due to the gradual loss of his hearing, Beethoven’s musical style began to change. Shortly after noticing his hearing loss, Beethoven spoke of his feelings about the loss in the “Heiligenstadt Testament.” The Heiligenstadt Testament was “a long, agonized letter addressed to his brothers” in which he told them of the hearing loss and how it impacted him and his music, he wrote “I would have ended my life—it was only my art that held me back” ( Kamien 235). He continued to explain that he felt that he had to give everything he possibly could before dying, and he did just that. “Beethoven’s personal life was marked by a struggle against deafness, and some of his most important works were composed during the last 10 years of his life, when he was quite unable to hear” (“Ludwing van Beethoven”). Many wonder how Beethoven was able to compose even after becoming deaf, which is simply explained because Beethoven’s “deafness was a slow deterioration, rather than a sudden loss of hearing, so he could always imagine in his mind what his compositions would sound like” (Weinberg). Beethoven’s most famous symphony that he composed after becoming deaf is The Ninth Symphony, which remains very popular to this day (Rothman). He also composed many more great pieces of work, “These include the last five piano sonatas, the Missa Solemnis, the Ninth Symphony, with its choral finale, and the last five string quartets” (Beethoven).
From dealing with the loss of his mother, becoming guardian to his siblings, and suffering his loss of hearing, it can be easily said that Beethoven went through a great deal in his life. Despite the bumps along the road, and even though he contemplated death, Beethoven overcame the challenges that he faced and became one of the greatest musical composers known today.
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