Why is Beethoven so great?

Ludwig van Beethoven is possibly the most famous of all composers - even people who haven't any interest in classical music know his name - and many would say that he is the greatest.

He was the first composer to decide, early in his career, that he would always compose exactly what he wanted to compose, without worrying about what any rich patron or any audiences might think. Before Beethoven's time even someone as gifted as Mozart had had trouble convincing those in authority that a composer was anything more than a servant.

Beethoven's view was that being born rich or noble didn't make you superior to anybody else, but that maybe creating great art did. And because he knew about extreme passions, about the human soul's darkest regions (he was once so desperately depressed that he seriously contemplated suicide) and its soaring ambitions, because he believed that mankind had the power to make for itself an ideal world in which, as Schiller put it, all men would be brothers, and because he constantly pushed the boundaries in his music in order to express his special insights into the human condition, create great art is exactly what he did.

Listen to the following extracts of some Beethoven's greatest works:

  Listen to the beginning of the Scherzo from Beethoven's Cello sonata in A

  Listen to the beginning of the first movement of Beethoven's 'Archduke' Piano Trio

  Listen to an extract from Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Piano Sonata

  Listen to an extract from Beethoven's 7 Variations for Cello and Piano

  Listen to an extract from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9

  Listen to an extract from Beethoven's 'Pathetique' Piano Sonata

  Listen to an extract from Beethoven's Symphony No. 7

  Listen to an extract from Beethoven's Symphony No. 5


Stephen Pettitt

Which is your favourite work by Beethoven? Is he the greatest of all composers?  Let us know your views...




(10/12/2008 10:45:43)
Beethoven is so great because he was innovative, he made his own rules. He wrote music from the heart to the heart. All human emotions are contained within his works, from sadness to joy, from despair to hope. I must have my daily fix of the great man, no other composer comes close.

- Len Griffin

Add a Comment    View Additional Comments |

Advertisement: