“Beethoven for all and not just the few”
In our days, Beethoven is the most listened to and most frequently performed classical composer in the world. His works are passionate, catching the audience’s ears and heart with his tunes in no time. His works were beyond his age and are part of the cultural heritage of mankind. His only opera, Fidelio, is a celebration of freedom, nature and power of creation. His Ode to Joy from his Symphony No. 9. has become the European anthem.
To mark Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th Birthday, a series of concerts, exhibitions, stage performances and many other outstanding events are organized in his hometown, Bonn. The Beethoven anniversary is celebrated from 16 December 2019 to 17 December 2020 throughout Germany. The Bundeskunsthalle exhibition in Bonn presents the child composer in the context of his time. According to Julia Runge, curator of the exhibition, “Beethoven was a jolly man, who laughed a lot. He joked a lot while spending time with his friends. He was always joking with them even after he had lost his hearing.”
For a full year, the Austrian capital, Vienna, is also celebrating the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth. Vienna, reaching everyone in the widest possible range with numerous concerts and exhibitions also commemorates the famous composer who has chosen their city as his home. The opening event of the WIENBEETHOVEN2020 commemorative year was held on December 16, 2019 in the Hall of Fame of the Vienna City Hall, where approximately nine hundred guests gathered under the motto “Beethoven for all and not just the few”. There are about three hundred of the major events planned for the first half of 2020. WIENBEETHOVEN2020 aims to identify Beethoven’s ideals, such as freedom, equality and fraternity in a variety of ways.
Musikverein, the Wiener Konzerthaus, the Vienna Opera House and the Theateran der Wien, where Beethoven’s Fidelio opera was first premiered, also commemorate with Beethoven concerts. In addition to showing the work of the composer, there are thematic guided tours to present how the great artist feltwhile going through his hearing loss and it is also well illustrated that the composer moved sixty-eight times throughout his life.
Between 17 and 19 April 2020, the Beethoven Musikfrachter will anchor in Vienna. The ship from Bonn to Vienna will dock at predetermined locations,offering a variety of music programs for the boarding visitors.
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 in Bonn. He is likely to have been born on December 16, as he was baptized on December 17 and at that time, due to the high number of child deaths, religious families did not wait long for baptism.
Until the first half of the 18th century, Beethoven’s paternal ancestors, who were mainly farmers and craftsmen lived in Mechelen. The family also had some contact with music, as his grandfather was a Flemish, court-martial bassist from Antwerp. When Ludwig’s father, Johann was young, he sang in in the court of the Bonn electorate as a tenor, thus he noticed his son’s musical talent early on and often tried to force him to study by beating him up. The drunken father had Mozart in his mind as an idol and he wanted to make a prodigy of Ludwig as well.
Despite his talent and due to the frequent changes of teachers, little Ludwig became more and more insecure, however, his talent was soon discovered by others. In 1780, his musical education was taken up by Christian Gottlob Neefe, a German opera composer, conductor and organist, who also assisted in the production of several of Beethoven’s first works. Beethoven composes according to this principle. Throughout his life, he fought hard for all emotions as well as for the perfect musical expression of them. As a result, his music became dynamic and rich in animation. Humans are always at the centre of his thinking and his depiction of man is based on the principles of Neefe according to which music expresses the birth, development and death of emotions.Beethoven wrote sonatas already at the age of 13, and his first string–quartet was born at the age of 15, followed by two others. He was the breadwinner of his family almost from the age of 10.
He later studied with composer Antonio Salieri for 8 years. He had previously visited Mozart to improve his knowledge, but unfortunately no matter how much he wanted to meet him, he had not been able to, as fate had repeatedly intervened. By the time he would have had the chance to visit him again, Mozart had died in 1791. From 1795, the audience also knew Beethoven as a pianist. His first great success was with the B major piano concerto. Unfortunately, his carefree, happy musical fulfilment was ended in his mid-twenties by his ear problems causing him to break both spiritually and physically. His instruments and music meant everything to him. The deaf genius was a unique artist with a talent which made the entire Europe bow to him. Despite his great works, when he became aware that he had lost his hearing, thus became “disabled”, he became a subject of mockery. His outstanding pieces of music, such as the Symphony No. 9, Missa Solemnis were born in the last era of the composer.
One of Beethoven’s most powerful and creative periods began after his crisis related to his deafness. This era is marked by works of mighty power, full of heroism and struggle; including the Egmont Overture, six symphonies, the last three piano concerts and five string quartets, seven more piano sonatas, including Waldstein and Appassionate, and Beethoven’s only violin concerto and opera, Fidelio.
When Beethoven completely lost his hearing, he even thought about committing suicide. In addition to this, he had terrible lower abdominal pains so his early retirement, at the age of 48, is totally understandable. Beethoven died on March 26, 1827, due to severe liver disease and lead poisoning. The German genius was only 57 years old at the time. He left several unfinished pieces of music including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 10 as well.
A few notes scribbled in his notebook are all that Ludwig van left of his planned Symphony No. 10, and the composition of the piece was knocked on by the early death of the music genius in 1827. Now a team of musicologists and programmers are racing over time to complete this piece of music usingartificial intelligence.
As Christine Siegert, head of archives at Beethoven House in the composer’s hometown of Bonn was quoted by the Phys.org science news portal: “The progress has been impressive, even if the computer still has a lot to learn”. Siegert is convinced that Beethoven would have approved the completion of his work with artificial intelligence, as he was also considered to be an innovator at the time.
Sieger emphasized that the piece of music will not endanger Beethoven’s heritage. The project uses machine learning technology. All of Beethoven’s works have been fed into the computer, which is trying to compose a possible continuation of the symphony in the composer’s style. However, Barry Cooper, a British composer and musicologist who himself also attempted to write the first movement of Symphony No. 10 in 1988, was more doubtful.
“I listened to a short excerpt that has been created. It did not sound remotely like a convincing reconstruction of what Beethoven intended. There is, however, scope for improvement with further work.” – said the professor of the University of Manchester.
The final orchestral version will be premiered on April 28 in Bonn, the composer’s hometown, in the centre of the anniversary celebrations.