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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
The culmination of the Viennese Classical Style—and/or first great Romantic?

The first completely freelance composer:
Beethoven never held a position as a composer in residency, as had Haydn and Mozart

For his success at combining tradition and personal expression he was the dominant musical figure of the 19th century, and scarcely any composer since his time has escaped his influence

Beethoven’s greatness is mainly thought of in terms of instrumental composition (though in his last symphony he would try to synthesize the symphonic and vocal realms)

Beethoven’s audience heard “Liberation” in his music—a successful revolutionary

He chose to compose music that would express his individual ‘genius

Beethoven expanded all the stylistic categories and models that he inherited

Beethoven’s life was seen as a tragic and—in the age of Napoleon—as a heroic struggle

He was of the generation coming of age at the time of the French Revolution (1789–1815) The revolution’s ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity, fired Beethoven’s inspiration

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon embodied the “career of talents” (meritocracy)

The “heroic Beethoven” takes shape:
For two years I have ceased to attend any social functions . . because I find it impossible to say to people ‘I am deaf’ - - (and yet) I will seize Fate by the throat - it shall certainly not crush me completely

The Heiligenstadt Testament
The Eroica (Ital., the heroic) Symphony
The first major “heroic” work was the third symphony (1803–1804), the ‘Eroica’ The Eroica marks a major event in musical history: beginning with Beethoven, German symphonic music gained an unprecedented prestige

French Revolutionary music’s influence on the “Eroica (e.g., “La Marseillaise” [1792], based on a piece from an opera)

A traditional view of the career:...

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