Biographies

All About Beethoven: Part II: The Next Part (After Part One)
More fun facts about the world's most scowly composer.

PART TWO OF A SERIES (SEE PART ONE)

Having left Bonn for Vienna, Beethoven began to realize that Vienna really didn’t make those little sausages. Despite this setback, he was more determined than ever to continue his musical studies, and so began to study violin under Ignaz Schuppanzigh (Gesundheit!), counterpoint with Johann Albrechtsberger (Gesundheit!) and Italian vocal style with Antonin Salieri, who killed Mozart in that movie, and was a Kappellmeister (Gesundheit!). But his most well-known teacher was Josef Hadyn, who at the time was a very popular composer, even though he didn’t always wear his wig.

Sausage bites and hot tubs

By 1793 Beethoven was able to support himself as a musician for the first time, and so was able to move out of his apartment with the empty giant wire spool for a table and into another apartment that had a shared hot tub and free cable. He was finally moving up in the world! He established himself as quite a piano “virtuoso” (German: “Show Off”) around town, playing, for example, variations of Bach’s Well-Tempered Klavier in the parlors of swooning teenaged Viennese girls, probably tossing his hair around, and kicking his clavier bench over. In the midst of all of this swooning and tossing he secured his first public performance of one of his piano concertos in Vienna in March 1795, where, legend has it, he bit the head off a sausage on stage.

[pullquote type=”right”]He now felt sufficiently expert enough at composing to release his first Opus, which, once out of its cage, ventured tentatively out into the grass, sniffed the air, and them lifting its metaphorical wings to soar majestically into the air as it released a great honk.[/pullquote]He now felt sufficiently expert enough at composing to release his first Opus, which, once out of its cage, ventured tentatively out into the grass, sniffed the air, and them lifting its metaphorical wings to soar majestically into the air as it released a great honk. This is what Opuses do.

Quartets, quintets and hamburgers

And so by the early 1800’s Beethoven had reached his musical maturity, as up until that time he was still putting tacks on violinist’s chairs and rubber chickens in french horns. But now he was a card-carrying member of the Vienna Composers Society (Motto: “Please Give Us Money – We Don’t Want To Work At MacDonalds Again”) and so had to produce quartets and quintets and whatever comes after quintets, but probably not what comes after that. It was at this time that he wrote and had performed his first Symphony, landing him on the cover of the Rolling Stone (German: “Rollinischestmeschsch Stonischestmeschsch”), or, at least he should have, but it wasn’t published at that time. For the premier of his  symphony, Beethoven rented an old hamburger joint called the Burgtheater. Reviews were positive, and Beethoven was now being hailed as the heir to Mozart and Haydn, even though it was pretty apparent that they both couldn’t be his dad, but that’s the way it was back then. By the end of 1800 Beethoven’s music was much in demand, and his rookie baseball card was being sold on eBay for over 150 marks.

Falling in love with Josephine

It was also during this time that (cue violins) Beethoven fell in love with the daughter of Countess (Not A Vampire) Anna Brunsvik. Her name was Josephine, which apparently was a common name back then, much like most girls’ names now have to have a “y” in them somewhere. And so they began dating, even though he was a musician, and her momma told her on the phone “come on home girl”, but she was all like “but, try too understand” and her momma said “too soon to lose my baby”, and she said “he’s a magic man” and then they got married. Unfortunately, no, she actually ended up marrying a guy named Count Josef Deym, who, also unfortunately, was not a vampire. But don’t worry, Josephine will come back in the third part of our story, so get your hankies ready.

Where will the wings of adventure take our hero next? Will there be action and car chases, or just more boring music stuff? Where ARE Vienna sausages made? Tune in next time for another installment of All About Beethoven!

NEXT TIME: More Beethoven, Because We’re Not Done Yet

All About Beethoven: Part I (The Part Where He Is Born And Has To Be A Teenager For A While)
All about Schroeder's favorite composer, and then some.

PART ONE OF A SERIES (SEE PART TWO)

Most kids these days think Mozart is the name of Katy Perry’s chinchilla and Beethoven is that dog in the movie their parents showed them when they were kids to keep them quiet in the van after drinking too many Slurpees at the Qwikee Stop after soccer practice. Ha ha! Crazy kids! Little do they know about the world of adventure and suspicious diseases that awaits them in the study of music composers from the 18th century (Official Motto: “Well, At Least Some Of Us Have Toilets Now”.)

A crucial musical figure who straddled both the Classical and Romantic eras of music, Beethoven must have had an incredibly wide stance. But, this not withstanding, he was apparently also able to sit at a piano bench and compose a lot of music, which you can still hear today if you listen to that one station that broadcasts “All Things Considered”.

One bad apple doesn’t spoil the wig powder

[pullquote type=”right”]Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father, not unlike the Jackson 5, except without the stylish dancing and Afros.[/pullquote]Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, which, according to Wikipedia, “has developed a concept of international co-operation and maintains sustainability oriented project partnerships in addition to traditional city Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…… Sorry, dozed off there. I’m sure Bonn is a very exciting place, and when Beethoven lived there, he must have enjoyed roaming its fun-filled streets full of Germans and wig powder shops. Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father, not unlike the Jackson 5, except without the stylish dancing and Afros. Although tradition has it his father was a harsh instructor, often driving the young prodigy to tears, at least he didn’t have to sing “One Bad Apple” on the Flip Wilson Show.

Obeying official Child Prodigy Rules, Beethoven was expected to show off for snooty courtesans with fake moles on their cheeks at as young of an age as possible. Therefore, he made his first appearance in March 1778 at age 6, where posters show he opened for “Honey Hornblower and the Stuttgart Steppers” at the Kaiserkeller, beating The Beatles there by 146 years. His first three piano sonatas, called “Kurfürst” (literally, “Gesundheit”) were published in 1783 and turned him into an overnight nothing, because, let’s face it, no one cares much about piano sonatas.

Like most teenagers in Bonn, Beethoven also spent his share of time getting into trouble doing burnouts on the Kappellmeister’s lawn in his Chevy, and getting into baton fights with rival gangs of composers. Still, he persevered, and soon found himself ready to pursue his life’s dream of becoming a Full Time Composer (Official Motto: “At Least I’m Not A Painter, Mom”).

Leaving the Big Macs behind

After graduation, Beethoven, as most accomplished musicians have throughout history, worked at a MacDonald’s for a year while trying to make his way as a composer in the Big City. Soon he began to gain the attention of local music supporters, such as Count Ferdinand von Waldstein, who, despite his name, was, unfortunately, not a vampire. It was through supporters such as these that he was able to pursue his craft as a composer, and, more importantly, to vow never to eat a Big Mac again. Beethoven also supported his income by playing viola in the court orchestra, which familiarized him with many important viola jokes, such as, “Hans, what’s the difference between a viola and a violin?” (pause for effect) “A viola incorporates a longer combustible period relative to the width, girth and weight of the respective instruments.” Trust me, back then, that was a knee slapper.

In 1792, having grown as a musician and having finally paid his dues to the Local Musicians and Viola Joke Union 102, he left Bonn for Vienna, which is in Austria, where the Sound of Music was filmed, but without any Beethoven songs. Sending his  friend off to Vienna, Count Waldstein wrote in a farewell message: “Through uninterrupted diligence you will receive Mozart’s spirit through Haydn’s hands. Also, try the weinerschnitzel at The Brown-Wigged Pig! (Official Motto: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Wig, No Pig)”. So Beethoven left for Vienna in a broken down VW van with faded flower power stickers on it, determined to make his way as an established musician in Vienna.

Next Time: The Vienna Period (WARNING: No Sausages)