TRIBUTE TO A MASTER | Daily News


 

TRIBUTE TO A MASTER

Supposed to be a love-child of Frederick the Great of Prussia, a rumour that the composer himself maintained but was improbable as his family was of Dutch descent. His father was a habitual drunk and sat hard on his son and the only warmth came from his mother. His father was a singer with the prestigious Electoral Chapel in Bonn and determine his young talented son to be another Mozart, he would keep his son at the piano all night, beating him if a mistake was made, Yet, his father took him through lessons at the piano, violin, viola, organ and the French horn that later made him the genius he was. Harassed as he was, the young Ludwig was packed off to Vienna by the Elector.

Ludwig published his first composition, Nine Variations for the piano on a March of Dressler when he was twelve years of age. It was simple and of lacklustre. Just as the knowledge of Shakespeare is basics to and understanding of English so Beethoven's thirty-two sonatas are central to the literature of the piano.

That was his start.

LUDWIG van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Many composers were to dwell at length along with him and many were great like him such as Samuel Wesley. Ludwig was influenced by Mozart and Haydn. After his debut in Vienna playing his Piano Concerto in B Flat, OP. 19, his reputation as a virtuoso pianist and composer took off to reach the skies. The rise was nothing but phenomenal. Ludwig wrote with sadness over-powering him because of his condition of not being able to hear. Not taken aback, he wrote furiously with a spell of creativity which was remarkable that he was able to compose embracing tragedy and joy and presented his Third Piano Concerto and Moonlight Sonata among other greats before deafness took him over and by 1812 his deafness made him irritable, untidy handwriting made his life miserable. Yet, he kept on composing, even to Gold.

MISSA SOLEMN, Op. 123 (1818.23) Is the pinnacle of religious music composed since the Polyphonic era. It is in five large sections and one of the reasons why it is rarely performed and as one would expect from Ludwig's humility in the face of God does not feature largely. Rather, we hear the composer defiantly and proudly proclaim that inside every man there is something of God. To compose this, he borrowed a bit of Bach's Mass in B minor and Mozart's C minor Mass 'GREAT' that many music lovers are not aware of.

THE SAD END: In 1826 Ludwig caught a cold while visiting his brother which developed into pneumonia and jaundice that made dropsy set in. His death in the afternoon of 26th March in the middle of a violent thunderstorm, a coincidence that had appealed to his more romantically-inclined biographers. There was an electric storm in reality over Vienna that particular day but other legends say that of the dying Ludwig raising his fists to Heaven in a final defiant gesture, must be a fanciful invention, considering his feeble physical condition. His last words were, 'I SHALL HEAR IN HEAVEN'. On this sad day for his funeral, schools closed, people stayed away from work and all of Vienna mourned.

Franz Schubert was one of the torch-bearers.

MOONLIGHT SONATA Op. 27 No. 2 (1801) In this celebrated first movement we find Ludwig expressing great emotion in a way that cannot compare with any previous work. Though anyone can play the notes, it takes a real musician to make it work to its fullest. It was named moonlight Sonata by a Berlin critic who saw moonlight over Lake of Lucerne when he first heard the opening. It is a strong work, perhaps with moonlight resting upon it each time it is played, even today.


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