Ludwig van Beethoven
The musical accomplishments of composer Ludwig van Beethoven have been all the more remarkable for the fact that he lost his hearing ability from an early age. He developed the symptoms of tinnitus, a constant sound of ringing in his ears that made it difficult for him to hear. He is compared to Mozart for his genius, and is considered the most eminent musician after Mozart.
Although his formal education never went beyond the elementary level, he trained in music under Joseph Haydn. He has always been acclaimed as a brilliant piano maestro. His father and grandfather were the court musicians of a German prince. Young Ludwig was often made to perform for his father’s drinking companions in the middle of the night, and was even beaten if he protested.
For the first thirty years of his life, Beethoven could listen to and play music effortlessly. As a result, he understood sounds of musical instruments and the pitch of the singing voices. He knew the harmony between music and singing before he became completely deaf. His deafness was not sudden, but a gradual decline. This slow process of losing his hearing activated his mind to imagine how his compositions would sound like. When he became completely deaf, he started to observe the vibrations of the piano. The observations helped him realise that he could not hear the high notes of the piano. To be able to hear his own compositions, he sawed off the legs of his piano. The piano touched the floor, and Beethoven would press his ear to the floor, banging the piano keys to listen to the high notes in his compositions.
The most significant aspect of Beethoven’s character was that he did not give up. With a brave heart, he confronted the greatest challenge a musician can face, and continued living his dream of composing music. Deafness could not deter him from achieving the pinnacle of musical success. He fought against the greatest obstacle and won. His quality of ‘never giving up’ strengthened him. It made him come to terms with his deafness in a dynamic and constructive way. These qualities led him to become a famous composer.
Q. Read the following statements and write true (T) or false (F).
- Although he composed a lot of music, Beethoven never learned to play music himself. (T/F)
- His deafness was not a sudden loss of hearing. (T/F)
- He composed most of his music early in his life, before he became deaf. (T/F)
- His musical skills were compared to Haydn. (T/F)
- Beethoven cut down the legs of his piano to hear the notes of the keys from the floor. (T/F)
Q. How could Beethoven compose music despite his loss of hearing?
Ans. During early years of his life, Beethoven could listen to and play music without any effort. That enabled him understand sounds of musical instruments and the pitch of the singing voices. Long before he became completely deaf, he knew the harmony between music and singing. Since his deafness was not sudden, but a gradual decline, his mind got activated to imagine how his compositions would sound like. On becoming completely deaf, he started observing the vibrations of the piano. But Those observations helped him understood that he could not hear the high notes of the piano. To hear those high notes, he sawed the legs of his piano so that piano touched the floor and he could hear the high notes by banging the piano keys and putting his ear onto the floor.
Q. What realisation made Beethoven continue his passion for music with more determination?
Ans. When Beethoven realized that he no longer needed his ears to listen to the music he composed, he was determined to continue living his dream of composing music. His quality of ‘never giving up’ strengthened him.
Q. Which word in the following is similar in meaning to ‘skillful’ (para 1)?