Ludwig van Beethoven

* 17.12.1770 in Bonn; ✝ 26.03.1827 in Vienna




Beethoven’s father decided to encourage his son’s talent by ensuring that he received a solid musical education from a succession of music-teachers. As early as 26th March 1778 Beethoven made his first appearance as a keyboard prodigy in Cologne, and at the age of eleven he played the organ during services. In 1874 he was appointed court organist – his first paying job. The Elector and Archbishop Maximilian Franz von Habsburg, who had employed Beethoven to play harpsichord, organ and viola, sent him to Vienna in 1876 to study under Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But Beethoven soon had to return to Bonn on account of his mother’s becoming seriously ill. After the death of his mother Beethoven was responsible for supporting his entire family. When Joseph Haydn stopped off in Bonn on his way back from England in 1792 a new period of study in Vienna was arranged. With the death of Mozart, the plan was that Beethoven would study under Haydn; and in consequence he set off for Vienna in the same year. Haydn had a deep influence on his student’s musical development.

Beethoven’s burgeoning success was undermined from 1798 onwards by a hearing problem which got much worse in the course of a few years. None the less the following years were amongst the most productive of his career; he composed numerous string-quartets, symphonies, violin- and piano-concertos. After his career reached its high-water mark, with certain concerts during the Congress of Vienna in 1815, every aspect of Beethoven’s life began to decline as a consequence of his illness. It is true that the composer’s last years were distinguished by his most monumental works, e.g. Missa Solemnis and the Ninth Symphony, but they were also marked by deafness and cirrhosis of the liver, and Beethoven died in Vienna on 26th March 1827. Ludwig van Beethoven is acknowledged to have perfected Viennese classicism and to have pioneered Romantic music.

There is no evidence that Beethoven ever engaged intensively with Shakespeare, but Arnold Schering, in his Beethoven in neuer Deutung, suggests an association between certain works by Beethoven and scenes out of Shakespeare, and affirms that such an association was intended by the composer himself.

Shakespeare Adaptations

Further Shakespeare Adaptations (according to Arnold Schering)


Secondary Literature

Album pages with this person

Citation and Licence

Beethoven, Ludwig van, in: The Digital Shakespeare Memorial Album. Edited by Christa Jansohn. URI: (Accessed on 23.04.2019)

This text is published under the following licence: CC BY-ND 3.0 DE. Digitzed media reproduced with the permission of the library of Birmingham.

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