wenty years after composer Johann Sebastian Bach died, Ludwig van Beethoven
was born in Bonn, Germany, and baptized on DECEMBER 17, 1770.Beethoven
was a pupil of the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn.
He was a peer of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn.
He encouraged the young Hungarian pianist Franz Liszt and the young Austrian composer Franz Schubert.
He met with German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Ludwig van Beethoven
was first taught to play by his harsh father, who became an alcoholic.
After his mother died, Beethoven
took responsibility to support the family.Beethoven
started becoming deaf at age 26, initially with difficulty hearing higher frequencies.
In 1801, while giving piano lessons to a Hungarian countess, Beethoven
fell in love.
He was not allowed to marry her, though, as he was a commoner. Beethoven
later dedicated his "Moonlight" Sonata No. 14 to her.
In 1801, Beethoven
"No friend have I. I must live by myself alone; but I know well that God is nearer to me than others in my art, so I will walk fearlessly with Him." Get the book America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations
In 1804, Beethoven
planned to dedicate his Third Symphony to Napoleon.
When it became clear Napoleon had plans to usurp power
and declare himself an emperor, Beethoven
scratched his name off the title page so violently a hole was made in the paper.
On August 11, 1809, while Beethoven
was living with his younger brother Carl and his wife in Vienna, Napoleon bombarded the city.
The thunderous cannon explosions were so loud that Beethoven
feared it would destroy what was left of his hearing, so he hid in his brother's cellar and covered his ears with pillows. Beethoven
spent a small fortune caring for his brother Carl who had tuberculosis.
When Carl died, Beethoven
became part guardian of his son.Beethoven
appealed to his other brother Johann to marry the woman he was cohabitating with.
In 1811, with his hearing fading, Beethoven
failed at an attempt to perform his Piano Concerto No. 5.
He never performed publicly again.
He continued writing and produced some of the world's most beautiful symphonies, concertos and sonatas. Beethoven
finished his famous Ninth Symphony being completely deaf.
At the conclusion of the Ninth Symphony's first public performance, Beethoven
turned around to see the audience applauding tumultuously, but could hear nothing, and wept. Beethoven's
Ninth Symphony included a 4th movement which was a choral setting of Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy", a poem first published in 1786 and made the Anthem of Europe in 1972.Beethoven
fell ill, and died during a storm on March 26, 1827. At the moment of his death there was an immense peal of thunder.
He was 56 years old.
President Jimmy Carter noted while visiting Bonn, July 14, 1978:
"As the world's people speak and work and live together, we all could well remember the poem of Friedrich Schiller, immortally put to music by the great Beethoven
, a son of Bonn, the 'Ode to Joy':
'Alle Menschen werden Bruder Wo dein sanfter Flitg el weilt.'"
('All mankind shall be brothers where thy gentle wings abide.')
Not only was Friedrich Shillers's "Ode to Joy" set to Beethoven's
Ninth, but so was Princeton professor Henry Van Dyke's hymn "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee":
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!..
Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine." Ludwig van Beethoven
was an inspiration to composers, such as Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, who had a marble bust of Beethoven
in his home overlooking the spot where he composed. America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations
Sixteen years after Beethoven's death, at the end of 1843, in Roquemaure, France, a parish priest wanting to celebrate the renovation of the church organ asked poet Placide Cappeau to write a Christmas poem, "O Holy Night."
It was set to music by Adolphe Adam and became one of the most beautiful Christmas Carols of all time. An English singing version was published by John Sullivan Dwight in 1855.
"O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine."
Sixteen years after Beethoven's death, Charles Dickens
published "A Christmas Carol" in 1843, which sold 6,000 copies the first day in London.
In its opening chapters, Scrooge chased away Christmas carolers:
"...at the first sound of - 'God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!'- Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost." Charles Dickens
wrote of Scrooge after his transformation:
"...and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
And so, as Tiny Tim observed, 'God bless Us, Every One!'" Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson
wrote in McCollum v. Board of Education
"It would not seem practical to teach...the arts if we are to forbid exposure of youth to any religious influences. Music without sacred music...would be...incomplete
, even from a secular
point of view." MIRACLES IN AMERICAN HISTORY-32 Amazing Stories of Answered PrayerSearch AMERICAN MINUTE archives