Beethoven Accomplishments

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Ludwig van Beethoven's (1770-1827) work can be classed into three broad categories – the early, middle and late periods. Each composition can be stylistically represented by one of these three eras which bridge the classical period and the romantic period – he is known as a transitional figure between both eras. The early period began in 1795, where his compositions were written in Bonn; shortly after studying composition with Haydn. The work of this period transformed classical music into something much more expressive, developing on the musical idiom of previous composers such as Mozart and Haydn. Beethoven's middle period began in Vienna during 1802. Although this Viennese classical style had been first established and mastered by Mozart,…show more content…
A key factor to consider when assessing Beethoven's late period is that he lacked only what we can imagine would be his most important sense. In 1976, his hearing deteriorated and by 1815; the hight of his later period, he stated that his condition had become “intolerable”. In his Heiligenstadt testament to his brothers Carl and Johann, he states “I would have ended my life, it was only my art that held me back”. This determination brought about a positive development in his works. The late era had many unmistakable and apparent characteristics such as veering away from the typical classical period constraints, experimenting with new forms, greater fluidity between distant keys, extensive harmonic features, expansive development sections, increased counterpoint and an improvisatory…show more content…
This work is a set of variations for the piano based on a waltz composed by Anton Diabelli. Beethoven wrote out numerous sets of piano variations based on themes by such diverse composers as Dittersdorf, Grétry, Haibel, Mozart, Paisiello etc. (pg 122, cambridge companion). It is one of the longest, most ambitious and greatest works written by Beethoven for piano. He took inspiration from JS Bach's Goldberg Variations. Ultimately, Beethoven reduces the waltz to its basic tonal structure and then re-composes it. Beethoven attempts to create a narrative throughout the Diabelli Variations, for example with one variation being a slightly faster tempo than the other, and each movement is brought together in an extraordinary way. The typical form would be one minor variation and then a return to the major to finish, however, Beethoven has three minor variations, each very different from the other. The slow movement in the middle, is very much like a sonata. This is followed immediately with a fugue variation in the style of Handel. The repeated notes in a single phrase make it very typical of a 'Handel' fugue. This is evident as Beethoven studied Handel's works. Again, this experimentation with the form is a characteristic which is typical of Beethoven's late period. Arnold Schoenberg states, “in respect of its harmony, Diabelli Variations deserves to be called the most adventurous work by Beethoven”.

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