What Music Did Beethoven Write?

What Music Did Beethoven Write?

Beethoven is one of the most famous and influential classical composers of all time. But what music did he actually write? Here’s a look at some of Beethoven’s most famous pieces.

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Ludwig van Beethoven is a celebrated classical composer who wrote numerous symphonies, concerti, and solo works. He also wrote some music for piano, voice, and chorus.

The early years

During his early years, Beethoven composed several works for piano and violin. Included among these are the Piano Sonatas Op. 2, the Violin Sonatas Op. 12, the first two sets of piano variations (Op. 35), and the first of his 10 violin sonatas (Op. 96). While many of these were published during his lifetime and were reasonably successful, they did not receive the same critical acclaim as his later works.

The middle years

In his middle years, Beethoven’s works began to show a greater level of experimentation. He composed several works that did not fit neatly into any particular genre, including the song cycle An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved), Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and his only opera, Fidelio. Many of his works from this period are considered some of his best, including the Third (“Eroica”) and Fourth Symphonies, the “Waldstein” and “Appassionata” piano sonatas, “Egmont” and the Violin Concerto.

The late years

In his late years, Beethoven’s hearing continued to deteriorate, and he gave up conducting and performing in public. He withdraws into seclusion in the rural surroundings of Hinterbrühl and Heiligenstadt. Many of his greatest works come from these years, when he composed some of his most technically demanding pieces such as the last five piano sonatas, the Missa Solemnis, and his Ninth Symphony.

The opera years

In the years from 1803 to 1814 Beethoven produced some of his greatest works. His opera Fidelio was first performed in 1805, and he continued to work on perfecting it until its final version in 1814. The Egmont overture and incidental music (Op. 84, 1810) and violin concerto (Op. 61, 1806) also date from this period. Many of his most popular works were composed during the so-called “heroic decade”, including the Third (“Eroica”) Symphony (1803–04), Fifth Symphony (1808), Sixth Symphony (1808), Fourth Piano Concerto (1808), and Violin Concerto (1806). The compositions of his “middle period” up to 1812 include the Razumovsky string quartets (Op. 59, 1799); the Appassionata Sonata for piano (1807); five piano sonatas including the Pathétique Sonata; six string sonatas; five sets of solo piano variations including on a theme from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro; three overtures written to accompany plays by Johann Wolfgang Goethe; six solo cantatas including An die ferne Geliebte; four trios for piano, violin, and cello; two sextets for piano and winds; many songs including Adelaide, An die Hoffnung, Sextet WoO 36 No. 1 Songs set to Goethe’s poetry, Scottish songs Opus 108 No. 9 in C Minor Mignon

The piano years

Beethoven’s first published work was a set of piano variations (Op. 2). His first important commission came four years later, when he was asked to write a series of piano trios (Op. 1) by Prince Lichnowsky. He composed secrets for these trios while staying in the Bohemian spa town of Teplice in 1796, hoping the extracts from the waters would improve his health.

Other important works from Beethoven’s early years include his first Symphony (Op. 21, composed 1799-1800 and premiered on April 2, 1800), six string quartets (Op. 18, composed 1798-1800), Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major (Op. 15, composed 1796-97), and his set of 32 Piano Sonatas (the first eight being Op. 2, composed 1795-96).

The string years

Most people know of Beethoven’s great works such as the Ninth Symphony and the Moonlight Sonata. However, did you know that he also wrote a great deal of music for string instruments? During what is known as his “string years,” Beethoven composed some of his most popular and enduring works, including the Violin Concerto in D Major and the String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor (op. 131). If you’re a fan of Beethoven’s music, be sure to check out his string works – you might be surprised at how much you enjoy them!

The symphony years

Beethoven composed his first symphony in 1800 and his last in 1824, a gap of 24 years. In between he wrote six others, numbered 2 to 7. He also composed a number of what he called symphonies for orchestra without vocal parts – basically, large-scale works for orchestra only. The best known of these is the Symphony No. 5 in C minor, which has the famous opening four notes – da-da-da-DUM.

The choral years

In his twenties, Beethoven began to expand his compositional palette and rose to public prominence with a series of important orchestral and piano works. But it was in the genres of sacred music and opera that Beethoven truly found his voice, penning some of his most personal and beloved works during what is often called his “choral years.”

During this period, Beethoven wrote some of his most celebrated pieces of music, including his only opera, Fidelio, as well as several large-scale sacred works like the Missa Solemnis and the Ninth Symphony (which features the famous “Ode to Joy”). Though these pieces were composed during a time of personal hardship for Beethoven—he was slowly going deaf and struggling with custody battles over his nephew—they represent some of the composer’s most optimistic and uplifting music.

The final years

Beethoven’s final years were marked by declining health. He continued to composes despite his deafness and increasing deafness. Many of his compositions from this period are considered some of his greatest works, including his Ninth Symphony and Missa Solemnis.

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