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Classicalite's Five Best: Beethoven Trivia

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Aug 15, 2014 01:29 PM EDT

If you thought you knew Beethoven, we found 5 truths to Ludwig van Beethoven's character that you either may not have known or overlooked into your processions with Vienna's most brilliant composer.

There are a lot of idiosyncrasies that carved Beethoven's block. It's common knowledge that he was deaf, composed his Ninth Symphony Ode to Joy that has provided every budding piano student with a coming-of-age headache and was, to put it lightly, hard to get along with.

But did you know he was considered a "spacecadet" by his fellow schoolmates? Or how about that Beethoven only gave lessons to prospective prodigies--or talentless but attractive woman (c'mon, he was just a normal guy)? Either way, he's a celebrated genius the likes of his predecessors Mozart or Haydn (whom he took lessons from but couldn't seem to get along with).

Thus, thanks to Mental Floss, we've compiled five facts of trivia for your Beethoven knowledge.

1. Beethoven was known for his improvising (before he lost his hearing). One contemporary of his, composer Johann Baptist Cramer, told his students that if you haven't heard Beethoven improvise, you haven't heard improvisation.

2. When Beethoven had been composing for some years, the piano began to come into its own. Whereas his predecessors had composed for harpsichord, Beethoven decided he would focus his efforts on the instrument no one had yet written comprehensive work for.

3. Beethoven was a sick kid to his dying day. Throughout his life he would suffer from deafness, colitis, rheumatism, rheumatic fever, typhus, skin disorders, abscesses, a variety of infections, ophthalmia, inflammatory degeneration of the arteries, jaundice, chronic hepatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver.

4. His Symphony no. 3, called Eroica, was dedicated to Napoleon (before he'd disappointed Beethoven and crowned himself absolute monarch, as opposed to being a symbol of revolution and new era in Europe) and written at a time when Beethoven considered moving to Paris. The move never happened, but the symphony would be a defining artistic work of the German enlightenment.

5. Despite his acclaim, Beethoven always had to work hard to ensure a comfortable living by giving piano lessons, writing work commissioned by wealthy Viennese residents, and, of course, publishing his own music.

And if your headaches haven't arrived, here's the ever-famous and ever-played Ode to Joy from Beethoven.

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TagsLudwig van Beethoven, Mental Floss, Haydn, Mozart, Johann Baptist Cramer, Classicalite's Five Best

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