Essay, Research Paper: Beethoven Berlioz And Chopin


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Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in 1770 to Johann van Beethoven
and his wife, Maria Magdalena. He took his first music lessons from his father,
who was tenor in the choir of the archbishop-elector of Cologne. His father was
an unstable, yet ambitious man whose excessive drinking, rough temper and
anxiety surprisingly did not diminish Beethoven’s love for music. He studied
and performed with great success, despite becoming the breadwinner of his
household by the time he was 18 years old. His father’s increasingly serious
alcohol problem and the earlier death of his grandfather in 1773 sent his family
into deepening poverty. At first, Beethoven made little impact on the musical
society, despite his father’s hopes. When he turned 11, he left school and
became an assistant organist to Christian Gottlob Neefe at the court of Bonn,
learning from him and other musicians. In 1783 he became the continuo player for
the Bonn opera and accompanied their rehearsals on keyboard. In 1787, he was
sent to Vienna to take further lessons from Mozart. Two months later, however,
he was called back to Bonn by the death of his mother. He started to play the
viola in the Opera Orchestra in 1789, while also teaching in composing. He met
Haydn in 1790, who agreed to teach him in Vienna, and Beethoven then moved to
Vienna permanently. He received financial support from Prince Karl Lichnowsky,
to whom he dedicated his Piano Sonata in C minor, better known as The Pathétique
♪. He performed publicly in Vienna in 1795 for the first time, and
published his Op. 1 and Op. 2 piano sonatas. His works are traditionally divided
into three periods. The first is called the Viennese Classical, the second is
the Heroic, and the third is Late Beethoven. In the first period, his
individuality and style gradually developed, as he used many methods from Haydn,
including the use of silence. He composed mainly for the piano during this
period. These works include Symphony no. 1 in C (1800), his first six string
quartets, and the Pathétique (1799). His Moonlight Sonata in C# minor (1801) is
known as the first of Heroic Beethoven. Beethoven learned that he would become
deaf in 1802 and suffered sever depression. His composing skills were not
affected by his deafness, but his ability to teach and perform was inhibited. It
is said that he became deaf from his habit of pouring cold water over his head
while composing, to refresh himself, and then not drying his massive amounts of
hair afterwards. He wrote his only opera, Fidelio in 1805. The main theme of the
opera revolves around fidelity, which reflects his personal desire to marry.
Other works in the Heroic period include the Kreuzer Sonata (1803), symphonies 3
– 7, the Violin Concerto in D major (1806), the Razumovsky Quartets (1806),
the Emperor Concerto (1809) and the Archduke Trio, Op. 97 (1811). After 1813,
during his Late period, Beethoven composed inwardly. He was totally deaf, as
this is sometimes known as the “silent period.” Some say that Beethoven was
composing music for a different age. His life became more chaotic and he
composed less and less. In his works, he used more miniaturization and
expansion. The music began to become “odd” as he began to experiment with
the number of movements, contrast in volume and dynamics, harmonic
predictability, sonata movements and trills in his works. Beethoven became
increasingly argumentative as he was further tormented by his deafness. Goethe
described his attitude as aggressive, and perhaps understandable, but not easy
to live with. He gave his last performance in 1814, on the piano, but continued
to be a respected composer in Viennese society. Some of his late achievements
include the Diabelli Variations (1820-1823), the last piano sonatas and six
string quartets, the Mass in D major, Missa Solemnis (1823), the Choral
Symphony, no. 9 (1824), in which he set Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” in the
final movement. At Beethoven’s death in 1827, Franz Grillparzer best described
him during his funeral address when he said: “despite all these absurdities,
there was something so touching and ennobling about him that one could not help
admiring him and feeling drawn to him.” Berlioz Louis Hector Berlioz was born
on December 11, 1803, in La Cote-Saint-Andre, a very small town in the east of
France, fairly close to Grenoble, and a little further from Lyon. His father was
a very respected doctor, an openly declared atheist and also a music lover. His
mother was a Catholic. He was brought up under strict Catholicism as a boy, but
soon left the Church and claimed agnosticism for the rest of his life. He
started musical education when he was 13. He took flute (flageolet), vocal and
guitar lessons. He did not study the piano as a child. In fact, his first
compositions were for piano, flute and guitar. For his first 20 years or so, his
father was the main influence in his life. In 1821, his father enrolled him in a
medical school in Paris. After about a year of study there, he became very
excited with the study of music. He attended operas in Paris, which fueled his
love for music, and he soon abandoned medical school and enrolled in the
Conservatoire under Jean- Francois le Suer. He wrote his Missa Solemnis, but at
the time, he did not have enough money for it to be performed, so it was
performed a year later. His father agreed to keep his allowance unless he failed
in music, at which time he would need to choose another field. But a year later,
he cut it off anyway. His mother cursed him for choosing the evil life of an
artist. In 1827, Berlioz became a chorus singer at a vaudeville theater, as he
was a very good sight singer. He did not publicize this, as it was mostly to
make ends meet. He saw a production of Romeo and Juliet in September of 1827 and
fell in love with the Irish actress Harriet Smithson, but she thought he was a
mad man. She became an important part of his life and music. That same year his
father restored his allowance because he admired his son’s determination and
worried about him. In 1828 he took English lesson so he could read Shakespeare.
He wrote a few articles on music but soon lost interest because of the
restrictions of journalism, and he found it to be boring. Finally in 1830,
Berlioz won the Prix de Rome. During 1829-1830 he wrote his Symphonie
Fantastique, which he finished during the revolution of 1830. He got his
symphony performed on December 5, 1830. It was subtitled “Episode in the Life
of an Artist” and was performed in the Paris Conservatoire under the direction
of Francois Antoine Habenack. To the score, he attached his program notes, with
descriptions of every part of the song, which helped to get a better idea of how
the song should sound. It was, indeed, a wonder performance. After the concert,
Franz Liszt, who he met the day before, was very excited about Berlioz’s music
and took him out to dinner. They soon became good friends. He soon met Camille
Mokke, who was out to prove her current admirer wrong by winning Berlioz over.
She did, but he should have regretted it. The next year, he was to go to Rome
for his obligation of winning the Prix de Rome. He stopped in Italy for a month
to visit home. Now, of course, both of his parents were proud of his successful
son. He soon left Rome to find Camille, who he had not heard from in a month as
she was strutting around Paris. On his way, he got a letter in Florence from
Camille’s mom that informed him that Camille would be marrying someone else.
Camille had fallen in love with a rich, older piano player, and Berlioz was
still a young musician. He left for Paris with plans of a murder/suicide, but
during the long trip, he cooled off a little and returned back to Rome. He
returned back to Paris in November 1832 and moved into an apartment that had
just recently been occupied by Harriet Smithson. When Berlioz learned of this,
his feelings immediately came flowing back to him. He gave a concert of
Symphonie Fantastique and its sequel, Lelio in December. He invited Harriet to
sit in a box and she attended. Her career wasn’t going so well and she was in
financial hardship so she decided to meet Berlioz. She saw him as a way out of
debt, so on October 3, 1833, they were married. In December, he gave a
performance of King Lear, after which Paganini gave him great praise, and they
developed a friendship. Berlioz wrote a piece for him and turned it into Harold
in Italy. In 1834, they had a son, Louis. Harriet’s acting career failed, and
her beauty and health were fading fast. She soon began drinking and was turning
into a shrew. Berlioz could not deal with her anymore, and moved out and took a
mistress named Marie Recio, and opera singer. The next few years after that, he
traveled a lot with success in Germany, Russia and London. He began his memoirs
in 1848 and a year after that his father died. Between 1848 and 1855, he
traveled more with mixed results. In 1854, Harriet died. In 1855, Berlioz was
appreciated and recognized as a great composer. His great works were affecting
other composers and his Treatise on Instrumentation was becoming a standard
textbook. In 1862, however, Marie died of a heart attack, and in 1867, his son
died of yellow fever. In January of 1869, Berlioz became very sick and was
bedridden. He died two months later. He is buried in Paris today, with a square
bearing his name with an overlooking statue. Chopin! Frederic Francois Chopin,
one of the greatest composers of all time, was born in Zelazowa Wola, near
Warsaw on February 22, 1810. His father was a Frenchman who had lived in Poland
for many years and his mother was Polish and of noble birth. He loved to play
music, even as a small child. Before he even knew how to write down his ideas,
he started to compose music. He took piano lessons when he was 6 years old from
a Czech teacher named Wojceich Zywny, who used to base his teaching on Bach and
Mozart. When he was 7, his first composition, the Pollonaise in B flat major,
was written down by his father, as well as some other dances, marches and
variations now lost. At the age of 8, he performed at a public charity concert.
During his early years in Warsaw, he loved to hear the premier artists of the
time perform. His first published work, a rondo, appeared when he was only 15
years old. He graduated from the lyceum at age 17, and he was recognized as the
leading pianist of Warsaw and a very talented composer. After Chopin gave two
successful concerts in Vienna when he was 19, he began writing works designed
for his original piano style. In 1822, he finishes his studies with Zywny and
begins private composition lessons with Josef Elsner. He enters classes at the
Warsaw Lyceum the next year to further study classical literature, singing,
drawing, music theory and harmony. By the late 1820s, he had already won the
reputation as a piano virtuoso and composer. He toured throughout Europe to the
acclaim of audiences and critics, alike. He made his first visit to Vienna in
1829, where he played concerts and received critical acclaim. The audience's
response was very favorable and Chopin was impressed with the warm acceptance of
his music and pianistic abilities. The following year, he performed the Concerto
in F minor with a small orchestra for family and friends, then has its premier
in Warsaw’s National Theater on March 17. In Vienna in 1831, he continues to
compose some Mazurkas and Etudes, and attends the local opera and becomes very
involved in the local musical life. According to some, the first sketches of the
1st Scherzo and Ballade originated in Vienna. Poland then decided to revolt
against its Russian rulers. As a result, the Russian czar put Warsaw under
strict military rule, and Chopin decided to go to Paris, which was the center of
the romantic movement in the arts. He fell deeply in love with the city in 1831,
and never again returned to Warsaw. He soon became a favorite of the Parisian
salons, and the society elite. He gave lessons and concerts, and publishers paid
well for his compositions. The French loved his genius and charm, and he was
always in great demand as both a pianist and a teacher. 1833 and 1834 were very
productive years for Chopin. His works greatly increased. Among them are the
Variations Brillantes, the Rondo op. 16, and the Waltz op. 18. He completed the
Andante Spianato, Grande Polonaise Brillante, and the Scherzo no. 1 in 1835. He
traveled to meet his parents and continues on to Dresden and Leipzig where he
has a series of meetings with Robert Schumann and Mendelssohn. He became very
ill during the winter months of 1835, and writes his will and testament. In
1836, some of his greatest works appear in print for the first time, such as
Concerto in F minor, Polonaise op. 22, Ballade op. 23, Mazurkas op. 24,
Polonaise op. 26, and Nocturnes op. 27. In late October of 1836, Chopin met the
novelist, Baroness Aurore Dudevant, who used the pen name George Sand. He did
not at first like Sand, but upon his return from London in 1837, their
relationship intensified. They began a relationship that would prove to be the
most influential and devastating events of his life. He published his Etudes op.
25 and dedicated them to Countess Marie d’Agoult . In November he wrote the
Trio from the Funeral March Sonata on the anniversary evening of the uprising in
Poland. Chopin’s fame continuing in Paris, he gives a concert in the Tuileries
at the court of Louis Philippe I, then at a concert given by Valentin Alkan at
the Pape salons. In 1840, as his illness progresses, he continues to give piano
lessons to members of the aristocracy. It was the fashion among the ladies and
girls of Paris society to be known as a pupil of Chopin. He published Sonata op.
35, Impromptu op. 36, Nocturne op. 37, Ballade op. 38, Scherzo op. 39,
Polonaises op. 40, Mazurkas op. 41 and the Waltz op. 42 during the summer of
1840. His reputation only increased as his health worsened. In 1843, he and Sand
go to Nohant in the summer where he works on the Nocturnes op. 55 and the
Mazurkas op. 56. There he composed the Sonata op. 58 and the Berceuse in the
summer and autumn. He composes and corresponds with friends and family as his
health continued to deteriorate in 1845. He attended concerts in Paris and
receives visits from Delacroix and Mickiewicz. He composed the Mazurkas op. 59
and completed the Sonata for cello, the Barcarolle and the Polonaise-Fantasie.
By 1847, Chopin’s highly-charged relationship with Sand had ended, leaving
Chopin heartbroken. On February of 1848, Chopin played his last concert in Paris
at the Pleyel salon. He performed some of the preludes, mazurkas, waltzes, the
Berceuse, the Barcarolle, and with Auguste Franchomme his own cello sonata. A
few days after, the February revolution broke out in Paris, reducing the number
of lessons and affecting Chopin’s livelihood. He then traveled to England and
stayed there for 7 months, giving concerts in salons and public halls. He
continued to give lessons to the aristocracy there, and also met Queen Victoria,
Charles Dickens and Lady Byron. He then goes to Scotland and composes the Waltz
in B minor. In November of 1848, he returns to London, very ill. In 1949, Chopin
stops teaching and visits the sick Mickiewicz. He receives numerous visits from
friends, pupils and ladies, and Delacroix is a regular visitor. The Mazurka in F
minor, his last work dates from the summer of 1849. He is visited by his sister
Ludwika with her daughter and husband. He orders them to throw all of his
unpublished and uncompleted works into the fire. “You will find many works,
more or less worth of me; in the name of the affection which you hold for me,
please burn them all apart from the beginning of my method for piano. The rest,
without any exception, must be consumed by fire, for I have too much respect for
my public and I do not want all the pieces unworthy of my public to be
distributed on my responsibility under my name.” Soon after 2:00 AM on October
17, 1849, Chopin dies. On the 30th of October, Preludes in E minor and B minor,
and also his Requiem were performed at his funeral by his wishes. His heart was
taken to Warsaw and placed in the Holy Cross Church according to his wishes.
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